Main News

Europe

BRUSSELS - Ahead of the meeting of NATO Leaders in London to mark the Alliance's 70th anniversary, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday (29 November 2019) gave details of large increases in Allied defence spending. Mr. Stoltenberg announced that in 2019 defence spending across European Allies and Canada increased in real terms by 4.6 %, making this the fifth consecutive year of growth. He also revealed that by the end of 2020, those Allies will have invested $130 billion more since 2016. Based on the latest estimates, the accumulated increase in defence spending by the end of 2024 will be $400 billion. Mr. Stoltenberg said: "This is unprecedented progress and it is making NATO stronger.'

The Secretary General also confirmed that more Allies are meeting the guideline of spending 2 % of GDP on defence. This year, 9 Allies will meet the guideline, up from only 3 Allies just a few years ago. The majority of Allies have plans in place to reach 2 % by 2024. Mr Stoltenberg said: "Allies are also investing billions more in new capabilities and contributing to NATO deployments around the world. So we are on the right track but we cannot be complacent. We must keep up the momentum."

NATO Heads of State and Government will meet in London on 3-4 December and the Secretary General said he expected they will take decisions to continue NATO's adaptation, including more improvements to the readiness of Allied forces; recognising space as an operational domain; and updating NATO's action plan against terrorism. Leaders are also due to have a strategic discussion on Russia, the future of arms control, as well as the rise of China.

The Secretary General highlighted how NATO continues to be the bedrock of peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. He acknowledged that while there were sometimes disagreements among Allies, they have always been able to overcome their differences and unite round their core task; protecting and defending each other. Mr Stoltenberg said: "Our Alliance is active, agile and adapting for the future. Standing together, North America and Europe represent half the world's economic and military might. In uncertain times, we need strong multinational institutions like NATO. So we must continue to strengthen them every day, to keep all our citizens safe. And that is what we are going to do when Leaders meet next week."

AB/

BRUSSELS - CNN cited unnamed Pentagon officials as saying that the White House wants to cut payments to NATO to about 16% of the total contributions to the alliance, which almost puts the country on a par with Germany.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has stated that the alliance approved a new scheme for calculating contributions to its total budget.

"It's true that we have agreed with the new formula for the distribution of these costs [in NATO's common budget], with the US due to pay less and Germany expected to pay more. Each of these countries will pay almost 16% of the NATO budget, and the rest will be distributed among other allies", Stoltenberg told reporters in Paris on Thursday.

Separately, the NATO chief pledged further modernization of the "strong" alliance, also reiterating his recent remarks that the EU is unable to defend Europe on its own.

"The EU is important, but it cannot defend Europe," Stoltenberg said earlier this month after French President Emmanuel Macron claimed that NATO is experiencing "brain death".

The Thursday statement comes after CNN cited unnamed US Department of Defence sources as saying that the White House had decided to cut its contributions of direct funding for NATO, hoping that other countries will fill the gap in the budget of the alliance.

The sources claimed that the US plans to slash its payments to NATO to about 16% of total contributions to the alliance, which actually puts the country on par with Germany, which will contribute about 14.8%.

According to the media outlet, the share of direct US funding was about 22%, which covered the costs of maintaining the alliance's headquarters, its security investments and some joint military operations.

"All Allies have agreed upon a new cost sharing formula. Under the new formula, cost shares attributed to most European Allies and Canada will go up, while the US share will come down. This is an important demonstration of Allies' commitment to the Alliance and to fairer burden-sharing", the source pointed out.


Trump Slams Germany for failing to pay fair NATO share


US President Donald Trump has repeatedly pressed NATO member states to meet their annual defence spending obligations in the alliance since he took office in 2017.

He even insisted that they raise their expenditures to 4 percent of GDP – instead of the existing target of 2 percent.

In particular, Trump pointed the finger at Germany for its refusing to meet the goal.

Germany reportedly earmarked a total of 1.23 percent of its GDP for defence in 2018, with Berlin expected to further boost defence expenses next year to 49.7 billion euros, or 1.38 percent of its GDP.

Chancellor Angela Merkel additionally pledged to increase Germany's military spending up to 1.5 percent of its GDP by 2023, which is, however, out of line with the NATO target.

AB/

ROME - Italian police said on Thursday they uncovered a plot to form a new Nazi party and seized a cache of weapons during searches across the country.

Police in 16 towns and cities from the Mediterranean island of Sicily to the Alps in northern Italy took part in the investigation, which was launched two years.

The probe revealed a “huge and varied array of subjects, residents in different places, united by the same ideological fanaticism and willing to create an openly pro-Nazi, xenophobic and anti-Semitic movement”, a police statement said.

Police did not say how many people joined the group or how many arrests were made. In Italy “defense of fascism” and efforts to revive fascist parties are crimes.

The new party was called the Italian National Socialist Party of Workers and police showed off a range of Nazi paraphernalia, including swastikas and pictures of Adolf Hitler seized during searches of 19 properties.

They also found a large number of weapons, including pistols, hunting rifles and crossbows.

The group had forged links with extremist groups abroad, including in Portugal, Britain and France, police said.

Police in July found a huge stash of weapons, including an air-to-air missile, linked to far-right extremists, while in November two men connected to another group of Nazi sympathizers were arrested on suspicion of planning to attack a mosque.

AB/

THE HAGUE - A hacking tool that was able to give full remote control of a victim’s computer to cybercriminals has been taken down as a result of an international law enforcement operation targeting the sellers and users of the Imminent Monitor Remote Access Trojan (IM-RAT).

The investigation, led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), with international activity coordinated by Eurojust and Europol, resulted in an operation involving numerous judicial and law enforcement agencies in Europe, Colombia and Australia.

Coordinated law enforcement activity has now ended the availiblity of this tool, which was used across 124 countries and sold to more than 14 500 buyers. IM-RAT can no longer be used by those who bought it.

Search warrants were executed in Australia and Belgium in June 2019 against the developer and one employee of IM-RAT. Subsquently, an international week of actions was carried out this November, resulting in the takedown of the Imminent Monitor infrastructure and the arrest at this stage of 13 of the most prolific users of this Remote Access Trojan (RAT). Over 430 devices were seized and forensic analysis of the large number of computers and IT equipment seized continues.

Actions were undertaken this week in the framework of this operation in the following countries: Australia, Colombia, Czechia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.


A powerful computer highjacking tool


This insidious RAT, once installed undetected, gave cybercriminals free rein to the victim’s machine. The hackers were able to disable anti-virus and anti-malware software, carry out commands such as recording keystrokes, steal data and passwords and watch the victims via their webcams. All that could be done without a victim’s knowledge.

This RAT was considered a dangerous threat due to its features, ease of use and low cost. Anyone with the nefarious inclination to spy on victims or steal personal data could do so for as little as US$25.

Victims are believed to be in the tens of thousands, with investigators having already identified evidence of stolen personal details, passwords, private photographs, video footage and data.

Daniela Buruiana, National Member for Romania at Eurojust and Chair of its Cybercrime Team, said: ‘The cybercriminals selling and using the IM-RAT affected the computers of tens of thousands of victims worldwide. We would like to thank all the judicial and law enforcement authorities involved for the excellent results achieved in this operation. These authorities have shown an extremely high level of commitment and legal and technical expertise. Effective cooperation and coordination among all the relevant actors are vital in overcoming the obstacles to investigations due to the global scale and technical sophistication of this type of crime.’

Steven Wilson, Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), said: ‘We now live in a world where, for just US$25, a cybercriminal halfway across the world can, with just a click of the mouse, access your personal details or photographs of loved ones or even spy on you. The global law enforcement cooperation we have seen in this case is integral to tackling criminal groups who develop such tools. It is also important to remember that some basic steps can prevent you falling victim to such spyware: we continue to urge the public to ensure their operating systems and security software are up to date.’


Avoiding RAT-ing


The public and businesses can follow simple steps to help protect themselves from such malware, including:

- Update your software, including anti-virus software;

- Install a good firewall;

- Don’t open suspicious e-mail attachments or URLs – even if they come from people on your contact list; and

- Create strong passwords.

For more advice on how to protect yourself against Remote Access Trojans, check Europol’s crime prevention advice.

Mediterranean

By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM - Secret recordings, powerful media moguls, illicit gifts of cigars and champagne, betrayals by trusted aides. The three corruption cases against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu have all the makings of a political thriller.

On Thursday, after more than three years of investigations, the most dominant Israeli politician of his generation was charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Investigators have not revealed the informants who provided the first tips about alleged corruption by the veteran conservative nicknamed “King Bibi.” But from there they methodically picked off members of the prime minister’s inner circle of hand-picked aides and senior officials as state witnesses against him. The mounting evidence was revealed in a series of tantalizing leaks that undercut what prosecutors allege was Netanyahu’s scheme to control his public image by trading regulatory favors to news companies for positive coverage.

The man heading the investigation was Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who was appointed by Netanyahu in 2016 and had previously served as Bibi’s cabinet secretary starting in 2013.

“I had the privilege of working with him and witnessing his many talents and capabilities as prime minister,” Mandelblit said in announcing the charges. “The decision to file an indictment against him was made with a heavy heart.”

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing from the beginning of the investigations and remained defiant in his emotional prime-time national address on the night of his indictment. He called the cases an “attempted coup” to overthrow him, based on “fabrications.”


‘ROTTEN’


The probe began with tips trickling into investigators.

“Something smelled rotten, but it wasn’t clearly criminal,” a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation told Reuters.

Mandelblit launched an initial inquiry in July 2016, soon after Netanyahu appointed him. Investigators soon focused on dealings between the prime minister, Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

These would eventually lead to Case 1000, in which Netanyahu is charged with fraud and breach of trust for allegedly requesting and receiving gifts from Packer and Milchan, which included a regular supply of cigars and champagne.

The indictment alleges Netanyahu helped Milchan with various business interests. Milchan and Packer provided testimony and have not been charged with any wrongdoing.

During a separate probe of Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, Ari Harow, investigators stumbled on a Pandora’s box: secret recordings made on Harow’s mobile phone.

They documented a series of meetings between two men who were then known publicly as enemies: Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, the owner of Israel’s best-selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth.

“It was jaw-dropping,” said the source, describing the moment investigators first heard the recordings.

In meetings held between 2008 and 2014, the two allegedly discussed a deal in which Mozes would provide positive coverage of Netanyahu and negative coverage of his political rivals, while Netanyahu would push for regulations on Yedioth’s biggest competitor, Israel Hayom, a free daily owned by U.S. casino mogul and Netanyahu supporter, Sheldon Adelson.

The 63-page indictment released on Thursday quotes a meeting held in December 2014 during the run-up to the 2015 election. Prosecutors allege the two men discussed a bill that would have limited Israel Hayom’s circulation.

“We need to make sure you are prime minister,” Mozes allegedly told Netanyahu. “Assuming there will be a law that you and I have agreed upon, I will do my utmost best that you stick around for as long as you want to.”

The bill the two men discussed would never become law.

The recordings shocked prosecutors as they digested them over six hours, the source told Reuters.

“That was a big drama,” said the source. “It’s hard to believe something like this can even happen.”

The recordings set off the investigation that led to Case 2000, which charges Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust and Mozes with bribery.

Harow served two stints as Netanyahu’s chief of staff before resigning in 2015 amid allegations that Harow improperly advanced his own business interests while holding the position. He turned state’s witness against Netanayu in 2017 as part of a plea deal in which Harow confessed to fraud and breach of trust.

Mozes’s lawyers denied wrongdoing in a written statement and called prosecutors allegations of bribery an “erroneous and warped interpretation” of the recordings.


‘THEY WERE AFTER ME’


The most serious case against Netanyahu, Case 4000, did not start with the prime minister. In 2017, Israel’s Securities Authority (ISA) was investigating Shaul Elovitch, the chairman of the country’s biggest telecommunications firm, Bezeq Israel Telecom. ISA was investigating whether he had illegally profited from a 2015 deal in which Bezeq bought out his remaining shares in a satellite TV company.

Netanyahu, who at the time also served as Communications Minister, was not a suspect.

One of the key figures in the probe - Shlomo Filber, director-general of the communications ministry - was picked for the government job by Netanyahu soon after he took over the communications ministry. The source said the investigation revealed a secret backchannel between Bezeq and Filbur, who in 2018 would agree to provide evidence against Netanyahu.

Investigators later found evidence pointing to the prime minister’s involvement in regulatory moves that prosecutors allege provided a benefit worth about 1.8 billion Shekels ($500 million) to Bezeq. The company has denied wrongdoing.

Bezeq controlled a popular news website called Walla. The indictment alleges that Netanyahu made the regulatory concessions in return for better coverage of him and his family. It describes a dinner in which Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, hosted Elovitch and his wife, Iris, a few weeks before Israel’s 2013 election.

“The defendants agreed that Netanyahu and his wife will be able to make demands on Mr. and Mrs. Elovitch concerning their media coverage,” the indictment said.

The Netanyahus allegedly made hundreds of demands over the next few years for Walla to change headlines, remove negative reports about them and increase exposure of positive ones.

The Elovitches have been charged with bribery and obstruction of justice. Shaul Elovitch has also been charged money laundering. The couple denies any wrongdoing.

The indictment cited a striking example of Netanyahu’s influence on the news involving a rare interview he gave Walla, days before a 2015 election.

“Netanyahu was very angry about the questions,” Dov Gilhar, the journalist who interviewed him, told Israel’s public broadcaster Kan in March. After the interview, “Netanyahu ripped the neck-mic off, threw it on the floor, says nothing, gets up, walks into his office and slams the door.”

Gilhar told Kan that he had expected the exclusive interview to be published quickly, but two days passed before a chopped-down version ran after being edited without the journalist’s involvement.

The indictment alleges the edits were dictated by Netanyahu and Nir Hefetz, the media advisor to the prime minister’s family at the time and his former official spokesman. Hefetz turned state witness in 2018. Netanyahu has been charged with bribery in this case, as well as fraud and breach of trust.

Netanyahu said on Thursday that quid pro quo relations between politicians and the media were common, but he was being singled out.

“They weren’t after the truth,” Netanyahu said of police and prosecutors. “They were after me.”

Attorney General Mandelblit has rejected Netanyahu’s accusations. A source close to Mandelblit described him as “very fond of Netanyahu.”

“But at the end of the day there’s no room for sentiment,” the source said. “Either the evidence tells the story or it doesn’t.”

 

 

THE UNITED NATIONS - The launch of the Syrian Constitutional Committee could be a “door-opener” to finally providing a solution to the country’s brutal conflict, UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen said on Friday in a briefing to the Security Council.

“This launch was a sign of hope for the Syrian people, and a chance for the Syrian parties to begin a direct dialogue that they lead and own, on the future of a broken country”, he stated.

Negotiations for the Committee were held in Geneva at the end of October and brought together 150 participants: 50 each nominated by the Government, opposition and civil society.


Feelings of anger and loss, but talks held together


The men and women met over two days in the first face-to-face talks in five years, and the first to include civil society.

However, proceedings were not easy, as Mr. Pedersen revealed. Opinions diverged sharply, deep feelings of anger and loss surfaced, and at times emotions ran high.

“And yet, everyone stayed engaged,” he reported.

“The members of the Committee agreed an initial agenda, and listened to each other’s discourse, and there were efforts in language, tone, gesture and positioning to signal an openness to dialogue. With each passing day, there was a little more of this.”


Women’s participation central to democracy


Sabah Al Hallak of the Syrian Women's League described the Constitutional Committee launch as “a good step forward” in increasing women’s participation in the formal political process.

Women comprised around 30 per cent of the civil society participants, who had no formal political affiliations.

“Let me be clear: There can be no democracy without women’s full, equal and meaningful participation, or without codifying women’s rights and gender equality in any political process,” she stated.

Looking at the bigger picture, Mr. Pedersen expressed concern over the escalation in violence in the north, including the killing of at least a dozen people on Thursday in an attack in besieged Idlib.

James Jeffrey, the United States Special Representative for Syria, underlined the need for a ceasefire. He also called for countries to pressure the Assad regime.

“The United States maintains its position that there can be no reconstruction assistance to Damascus in the areas that it controls until there is a credible and irreversible political process in line with (Security Resolution) 2254,” he said.

“We believe that this position is consistent with many of our European and Middle Eastern partners. We will work closely with them to ensure that this pressure is maintained.”


Talks resume on Monday


The Constitution Committee agreed a 45-person body that reviewed ideas and proposals put forward in the larger group.

Negotiations are set to resume in Geneva on Monday.

Russia expressed hope that proceedings will take place “in a constructive atmosphere.”

“We deem it unacceptable to attempt to interfere in its work, or to impose solutions on the Syrians that run counter to their national interests or do not reflect them. It is also unacceptable to impose artificial deadlines or to put forward requirements for concessions from just one of the parties,” said Dmitry Polyanskiy, chargé d'affaires at the country’s Mission to the UN.

Mr. Pedersen urged Committee members and the international community to act in the interest of the Syrian people.

“It is my firm hope that with the Constitutional Committee as a door-opener, the Government and opposition will be able in time to establish a relationship, violence will abate, and conditions on the ground will change, and a comprehensive and decisive solution will finally emerge for the benefit of all Syrians,” he said.

“The Syrians who are leading and owning this process must seize the opportunity that the launch of the Committee offers. And they, and all of us, must build around it a mutually reinforcing dynamic for the sake of the Syrian people.”

AB/

THE UNITED NATIONS - Regardless of any national policy declarations, Israeli settlement activities are “a flagrant violation under international law”, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process spelled out to the Security Council on Wednesday.

Regretting the United States’ announcement on Monday that it “no longer views settlements as inconsistent with international law”, Nickolay Mladenov told the 15-member Council that “the UN position remains unchanged”.

And he called the settlements “a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”.

“Unilateral moves fuel anger and disillusionment and significantly undermine the prospects for establishing a contiguous and viable Palestinian State with Jerusalem as the future capital of both States”, he stressed.


Gaza ‘highly volatile’


Briefing ambassadors inside the chamber, the Special Coordinator noted that the Council was meeting just a few days after “the most serious recent escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza”.

He acknowledged that the immediate crisis was diffused but maintained that “the situation remains highly volatile”.

Mr. Mladenov painted a picture of militant activity, rocket fire and retaliatory air-strikes that had claimed civilian lives on both sides.

Recognizing Egypt’s close collaboration with the UN in brokering a ceasefire, he reported that calm in Gaza was restored after 48 hours of hostilities, but added that “had our efforts failed, we would certainly be in the midst of another war that would be far worse than the terrible conflict in 2014”.

Flagging that “the dangers have not passed”, he reminded that indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks against civilians are “unacceptable and must stop immediately”.


‘Desperate reality’


Turning to other risks, Mr. Mladenov cited Israeli border closures and intra-Palestinian division between various factions in Gaza, as feeding “a desperate reality”.

While over the past year and a half, the UN has taken steps to ease tensions and prevent escalation, he asserted, “they fall short in terms of financial resources, political commitment by Palestinian leaders, and measures by Israel”.

A lasting solution, must be political: “Israel cannot continue with its policy of closures that stifles development” he argued, and “Palestinian leaders cannot continue to avoid the devastating consequences of their internal political division”.

The Special Coordinator reminded the Council of its ultimate goal to help “Palestinians to develop freely, without relentless occupation, and Israelis to live in security, free from the fear of terror and rockets”.


Women ‘disproportionately affected’


Tanya Hary, Director of the Israeli human rights organization Gisha, Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, presented a sober analysis of the situation for Council members, sharing stories that illustrated the difficulties of living under Gaza restrictions.

She highlighted that “women are disproportionately affected” and maintained that it was incumbent upon the international community to allow “maximum access”, lift restrictions on goods and “catalyze peace” by reversing current trends.

WASHINGTON - The United States on Monday effectively backed Israel's right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank by abandoning its four-decade-old position that they were "inconsistent with international law," a stance that may make Israeli-Palestinian peace even more elusive.

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was a victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is struggling to remain in power after two inconclusive Israeli elections this year, and a defeat for the Palestinians.

It appeared to deliver a new blow to Trump's efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a peace plan that has been in the works for more than two years but has drawn widespread scepticism even before its release.

Pompeo said U.S. statements about the settlements on the West Bank, which Israel captured in 1967, had been inconsistent, saying Democratic President Jimmy Carter found they were not consistent with international law and Republican President Ronald Reagan said he did not view them as inherently illegal.

"The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law," Pompeo told reporters at the State Department, reversing a formal legal position taken by the United States under Carter in 1978.

His announcement drew praise from Netanyahu, who said it "rights a historical wrong," and condemnation from Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who said Washington was threatening "to replace international law with the 'law of the jungle.'"

Palestinians argued the U.S. stance flouted international law. The international community views the transfer of any country's civilians to occupied land as illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and U.N. Security Council resolutions.

"The United States is neither qualified nor is authorized to negate international legitimacy resolutions and it has no right to give any legitimacy to Israeli settlement," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The United States said its stance could prompt violence, warning Americans in the region to exercise greater vigilance because those opposing the move "may target" U.S. government facilities, private interests and citizens.

Jordan's foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said the policy change would have "dangerous consequences" for the prospects of reviving peace talks and called settlements "a blatant violation of international law."

Pompeo said the move was not meant to prejudge the status of the West Bank, which the Palestinians hope will become part of an eventual Palestinian state as part of a wider resolution of the conflict.

"This is for the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate," he said, saying the U.S. decision was not meant "to compel a particular outcome nor create any legal obstacle to a negotiated resolution."

While Pompeo said the administration was adopting Reagan's view that settlements were not intrinsically illegal, he dodged a question on whether he shared Reagan's view that they were ill-advised and an obstacle to peace.

Like many of the Trump administration's pro-Israeli moves, the settlements announcement is likely to appeal to evangelical Christians, an important part of Trump's political base that he is counting on to help him win re-election in 2020.

The timing suggested the White House may believe it could help Netanyahu withstand a challenge from his leading domestic rival Benny Gantz two days before Gantz faces a deadline to form a government after an inconclusive election.


'GRATUITOUS MOVE'


Analysts criticized the move, saying it would make it even harder to resolve the more than 70-year-old conflict.

"He can declare that night is day, but it will not change the fact that Israeli settlements are not only illegal under international law, but are also a huge obstacle to peace and to the stability of our region," said Hagit Ofran of the Israeli anti-settlements group Peace Now.

The announcement marked the third major instance in which the Trump administration has sided with Israel and against Palestinians and Arab positions.

In 2017 Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and, in 2018, the United States formally opened an embassy there. U.S. policy had previously been that Jerusalem's status was to be decided by the parties to the conflict.

And in March, Trump recognised Israel's 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights from Syria in a boost for Netanyahu that prompted a sharp response from Damascus.

As of late Monday, no other nations appeared to have followed the United States by declaring they had ceased to view the settlements as inconsistent with international law.

Trump's move may aim to help Netanyahu as he tries to stay in power. After two inconclusive elections this year, Netanyahu and rival Gantz have both struggled to forge a ruling coalition.

Martin Indyk, a former U.S. peace negotiator, described the decision on Twitter as "a totally gratuitous move."

"Why slap the Palestinians in the face again? Why boost the settlement/annexation movement at the very moment that Gantz is trying to form a government?" he asked.

AB/

North Africa

By Hamid Ould Ahmed

ALGIERS - Tens of thousands of Algerians marched through the capital and other towns and cities on Friday as their months-long campaign of protests gathers steam ahead of an election they demand to be canceled.

With three weeks to go before the December 12 vote for a new president, the protesters have started demonstrating more often and the authorities appear to be ramping up the number of arrests.

“We are determined to win in the struggle. We have reached the point of no return,” said Farid Djemai, sitting in a wheelchair in the main protest in downtown Algiers.

As a helicopter flew overhead and with large numbers of police in attendance, the protesters, many wrapped in Algerian national flags, thronged the streets chanting “we are not interested in your vote”.

The protesters reject the planned election, saying it cannot be free or fair while the military and senior officials from the old guard of the ruling hierarchy retain power.

The five presidential candidates were all senior officials under former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who stepped down in April when the army withdrew support after six weeks of demonstrations against his plans to seek another term.

“We will not stop our pressure,” said 37-year-old school teacher Mohamed Tachine, holding a child on his shoulder.

The protests were not quelled by the president’s departure, which was followed by the arrests of other senior figures seen as corrupt. Tens of thousands of people have continued to take to the streets at weekly demonstrations on Fridays.

They want more figures from the ruling hierarchy to step aside, an end to corruption, and for the military to quit politics. Powerful army chief Ahmed Gaed Salah has emerged as the dominant political player since Bouteflika’s departure.

Gaed Salah has been a key proponent of holding next month’s vote. The army regards the election of a new president as the only way to end the protests, restore normality, and escape the constitutional limbo caused by Bouteflika’s departure.

The FLN party which has dominated Algeria since independence in 1962 has not backed any of the candidates. However, the protesters still reject the vote and have hung bags of rubbish and posters of jailed opposition figures in public spaces designated for electioneering.

This week, several demonstrators were sentenced to 18-month terms in a quick-fire trial for disrupting the election campaign.

 

WASHINGTON - The US State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Morocco of thirty-six (36) AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and related equipment for an estimated cost of $4.25 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on November 19, 2019.

The Government of Morocco has requested a possible sale of thirty-six (36) AH-64E Apache attack helicopters (24 new, 12 optional); seventy-nine (79) T700-GE-701D engines (72 installed, 6 spares); thirty-six (36) AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sight/AN/AAR-11 Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensors (M-TADS/PNVS); eighteen (18) AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars (FCR) with Radar Electronic Units (REU); eighteen (18) AN/APR-48B Modernized - Radar Frequency Interferometers (MRFI); five hundred fifty-one (551) AGM-114R Hellfire missiles (441 new, 110 optional); sixty (60) AGM-114L Hellfire missiles; seventy-two (72) M36E9 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM); five hundred eighty-eight (588) Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) kits (478 installed, 110 optional); seventy-eight (78) Embedded Global Positioning Systems with Inertial Navigation (EGIs) (72 installed, 6 spares); thirty-nine (39) AAR-57 Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS) (36 installed, 3 spares); and two hundred

(200) AIM-92H Stinger missiles. Also included are twenty-one (21) Manned-Unmanned Teaming-2 (MUMT-2) video receivers (18 installed, 3 spares); thirty-nine (39) Manned-Unmanned Teaming-2 (MUMT-2) air-air-ground kits (36 installed, 3 spares); thirty-nine (39) AN/APR-39D(V)2 radar signal detecting sets (36 installed, 3 spares); thirty-nine (39) AN/AVR-2B laser detecting sets (36 installed, 3 spares); thirty-nine (39) AN/APX-123 or AN/APX-123A common transponders (36 installed, 3 spares); thirty-nine (39) IDM-401 Improved Data Modems (36 new, 3 spares); six (6) Link-16 terminals; thirty-nine (39) Improved Countermeasure Dispensing System (ICMD) (36 installed, 3 spares); thirty-nine (39) AN/ARN-149 (V)3 automatic direction finders (36 installed, 3 spares); thirty-nine (39) Doppler ASN-157 Doppler radar velocity sensors (36 installed, 3 spares); thirty-nine (39) AN/APN-209 radar altimeters (36 installed, 3 spares); thirty-nine (39) AN/ARN-153 Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) sets (36 installed, 3 spares); four (4)

TACAN ground stations; thirty-six (36) Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Range/Instrument Landing Systems (VOR/ILS) (36 installed, 3 new); twelve (12) AN/PYQ-10(C) simple key loader (12 new); thirty-six (36) M230E1 + M139 AWS automatic gun (36 new); eighty-one (81) M261 rocket launchers (72 new, 9 spares); seventy-eight (78) M299 missile launchers (72 new, 6 spares); fifty-three (53) Stinger Air-to-Air launchers (53 new); twenty-nine (29) Stinger Captive Flight Trainers (CFT) (29 new); eight (8) Stinger Aerial Handling Trainers (AHT) (8 new); five thousand two hundred sixteen (5,216) 2.75-inch rockets (3,896 new, 1,320 optional); ninety-three thousand (93,000) 30mm rounds (65,500 new, 27,500 optional); secure voice radios; training devices; communication systems; helmets; simulators; generators; transportation and organization equipment; spare and repair parts; support equipment; tools and test equipment; technical data and publications; personnel training and training equipment; U.S. Government and

contractor technical assistance, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $4.25 billion.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major Non-NATO ally that is an important force for political stability and economic progress in North Africa.

The proposed sale will improve Morocco's capability to meet current and future threats, and will enhance interoperability with U.S. forces and other allied forces. Morocco will use the enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defense and provide close air support to its forces. Morocco will have no difficulty absorbing the Apache aircraft into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and services will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The prime contractors involved in this program will be Boeing Company, Mesa, AZ and Lockheed Martin, Orlando, FL. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. The purchaser typically requests offsets. Any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor(s).

Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of eleven U.S. Government personnel and three contractor representatives to Morocco as part of the Technical Assistance Fielding Team and Field Service Representatives.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

AB/

THE UNITED NATIONS - A recent resurgence of violence in Tripoli, means Libya is “ever more in a race against time” to reach peace, however, agreeing the way forward to ending the conflict “is a realistic prospect”, the top UN official in the country told the Security Council on Monday.

“Seven and a half months into the conflict in Libya, and given the recent dangerous escalation in hostilities in and around Tripoli, we find ourselves ever more in a race against time to reach a peaceful solution that would spare many lives”, Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) told Council Members during a briefing.

Speaking via videoconference from the Libyan capital, he said he was “angry and sad” by another mass civilian casualty event that took place the same morning against a local biscuit factory, in which 35 were reportedly injured, and 10 killed in an airstrike attack, yet to be classified as deliberate or indiscriminate.

The past few days have been characterized by incidents like this one, with many families abandoning areas impacted by the shelling, Mr. Salamé said, adding that any further escalation of fighting in Tripoli’s densely-populated areas “would lead to disastrous humanitarian consequences.”

Thousands of people have been killed in sporadic fighting since 2014, between factions of the self styled Libyan National Army (LNA) commanded by Khalifa Haftar, based in the country’s east, and the Tripoli-based internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Faiez Serraj, following the overthrow of President Muammar Gaddafi three years prior.

An early April offensive launched by forces loyal to the LNA against the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli triggered the recent spasms of violence. The offensive reportedly quickly stalled, and both sides have drawn on international support to carry out air strikes, despite last week’s call by the United States for the LNA to halt attacks.

The “dangers and direct consequences of foreign interference are increasingly evident” Mr. Salamé highlighted. To fill manpower gaps, “there is growing involvement of mercenaries and fighters from foreign private military companies” with greater experience that has amplified the scale of the clashes.


Outside interference fueling fighting


Spare parts for fighter aircrafts, tanks, bullets and precision missiles are being shipped into the country to propel rival party supporters in their fighting, the Special Representative explained, along with a plethora of Gaddafi-era arms which breach a UN arms embargo in the country.

Mitiga Airport, a key outlet for the civilians of Tripoli and Western LIbya, has been closed for more than two and a half months due to shelling and airstrikes.

Mr.Salamé said he is working the the government’s Ministers of Interior and Transportation to see the airport reopens, in addition to pursuing Second and Third Steps of a three-step peace initiative he presented during his briefing to the Council in July.

In addition, UNSMIL has engaged in extensive outreach to Libyan constituencies,participating in meetings involving commanders of units engaged in fighting, civilian representatives, and political constituencies. The Mission has also hosted local mediations and efforts to address polarisation in the country through workshops on hateful rhetoric, and mediated dialogue between different members of society.


Hazards to healthcare


Tripoli’s renewed crisis has killed more than 200 civilians, and forced more than 128,000 to flee their homes in the last seven months, the Special Representative noted, and more than 135,000 remain on the frontlines, with an additional 270,000 living in areas directly affected by clashes. In addition, there has been an obvious trend in attacks against public service areas.

We have observed a clear pattern of precision airstrikes against medical facilities and personnel, wilful killing or harming of sick or wounded people” which may constitute war crimes, he said.

With 60 attacks against health care facilities, medical personnel and ambulances registered since the beginning of the year, nearly a quarter of all health centres have shut down due to the conflict, electrical or structural damage, resulting in a sharp increase in unmet health needs.

Serious concerns also continue with regard to migrants and refugees, vulnerable to unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment and unlawful deprivation of basic human rights, he continued.


Peace, ‘a realistic prospect’


For it’s part, the UN and humanitarian partners have reached over 310,000 people in need of assistance in 2019, through food deliveries, shelter support, protection services and others, however, “the needs exceed the means at our disposal” Mr. Salamé said, with the $202 million response plan less than half funded.

“It is somewhat of a cliche to say that the weeks ahead are critical - but once again, it is true for Libya”, Mr.Salamé said, concluding his briefing.

Condemning external investment in the conflict, he said involvement by international actors risks surpassing that of Libya on its own, “taking control of Libya’s future away from Libyans, and putting it in the hands of foreign parties.”

“The parties are known. The outlines of the agreement are known. Options for a temporary or longer-term constitutional framework exist. Electoral legislation has been produced before. It is all eminently possible” to stop the fighting, he stressed.

“Ending the conflict and agreeing to the way forward is a realistic prospect. The United Nations is in Libya, and will remain in Libya, to support the LIbyan people in their journey”, he maintained.

AB/

RABAT - Morocco hosted the first Libyan economic forum where the UN-backed Government of National Accord seeks a bigger role of the private sector and closer cooperation with Moroccan enterprises.

Some 400 participants mostly from Libya gathered in Rabat for the event as Libya struggles to rebuild the country after a devastating civil war.

Organizers from the Libyan private sector and the GNA said that the event is held in Rabat in tribute for Morocco’s support for Skhirate agreement and also to learn from Morocco’s economic development experience.

Speaking at the opening of the forum, planning minister Taher Al-Juhaimi said “Libya is a promising country for investments,” mentioning the country’s comfortable finances with zero debt and comfortable international reserves boosted by a trade and budget surplus.

He invited the Moroccan and Libyan businessmen to grab the investment opportunities offered in Libya, saying that his country looks to build on its potential to develop renewable energies in tandem with $12 billion investment in infrastructure and oil and gas production which currently stands at 1.3 million barrels per day.

Head of Moroccan chambers of commerce Omar Moro, for his part, said that the potential of trade between Morocco and Libya remains unlocked as the two countries traded only $105 million in 2018.

For his part, employment minister Mohamed Amkraz, speaking on behalf of head of the government Saad Eddine El Otmani, said that Morocco will continue to support Libya and contribute to rebuild the country along with the Maghreb union.

Organizers also said that Libyans aim at learning from the experience of Morocco’s private sector as they seek to open up their economy to local and foreign investors.

The event will wrap up with the signing of cooperation agreements to pave the way for Moroccan investments in Libya.

Research Papers & Reports

COMBINED EXECUTIVE SUMMARIES VOLUME I, II & III, OECD, Paris, December 2019


Executive Summary


VOLUME I

 

Reading proficiency is essential for a wide variety of human activities – from following instructions in a manual; to finding out the who, what, when, where and why of an event; to communicating with others for a specific purpose or transaction. PISA recognises that evolving technologies have changed the ways people read and exchange information, whether at home, at school or in the workplace. Digitalisation has resulted in the emergence and availability of new forms of text, ranging from the concise (text messages; annotated search-engine results) to the lengthy (tabbed, multipage websites; newly accessible archival material scanned from microfiches). In response, education systems are increasingly incorporating digital (reading) literacy into their programmes of instruction. Reading was the main subject assessed in PISA 2018. The PISA 2018 reading assessment, which was delivered on computer in most of the 79 countries and economies that participated, included new text and assessment formats made possible through digital delivery. The test aimed to assess reading literacy in the digital environment while retaining the ability to measure trends in reading literacy over the past two decades. PISA 2018 de ned reading literacy as understanding, using, evaluating,
reecting on and engaging with texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate in society.

 

WHAT STUDENTS KNOW AND CAN DO: MAIN FINDINGS

 

In reading - Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China) and Singapore scored signicantly higher in reading than all other countries/ economies that participated in PISA 2018. Estonia, Canada, Finland and Ireland were the highest-performing OECD countries in reading.


- Some 77% of students,on average across OECD countries,attained at least Level 2

proficiency in reading. At a minimum, these students are able to identify the main idea in a text of moderate length find information based on explicit, though sometimes complex, criteria, and reflect on the purpose and form of texts when explicitly directed to do so. Over 85% of students in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China), Canada, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong (China), Ireland, Macao (China), Poland and Singapore performed at this level or above.


- Around 8.7% of students, on average across OECD countries, were top performers in reading, meaning that they attained Level 5 or 6 in the PISA reading test. At these levels, students are able to comprehend lengthy texts, deal with concepts that are abstract or counterintuitive, and establish distinctions between fact and opinion, based on implicit cues pertaining to the content or source of the information. In 20 education systems, including those of 15 OECD countries, over 10% of 15-year-old students were top performers. In mathematics and science - On average across OECD countries, 76% of students attained Level 2 or higher in mathematics. At a minimum, these students can interpret and recognise, without direct instructions, how a (simple) situation can be represented mathematically (e.g. comparing the total distance across two alternative routes, or converting prices into a different currency). However, in 24 countries and economies, more than 50% of students scored below this level of proficiency. - Around one in six 15-year-old students in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China) (16.5%), and about one in seven students in Singapore (13.8%), scored at Level 6 in mathematics, the highest level of proficiency that PISA describes. These students are capable of advanced mathematical thinking and reasoning. On average across OECD countries, only 2.4% of students scored at this level.


- On average across OECD countries, 78% of students attained Level 2 or higher in science. At a minimum, these students can recognise the correct explanation for familiar scientific phenomena and can use such knowledge to identify, in simple cases, whether a conclusion is valid based on the data provided. More than 90% of students in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China) (97.9%), Macao (China) (94.0%), Estonia (91.2%) and Singapore (91.0%) achieved this benchmark. Trends in performance - On average across OECD countries, mean performance in reading, mathematics and science remained stable between 2015 and 2018.


- There were large di erences between individual countries and economies in how their performance changed between 2015 and 2018. For example, mean performance in mathematics improved in 13 countries/economies (Albania, Iceland, Jordan, Latvia, Macao [China], Montenegro, Peru, Poland, Qatar, the Republic of North Macedonia, the Slovak Republic, Turkey and the United Kingdom), declined in 3 countries/economies (Malta, Romania and Chinese Taipei), and remained stable in the remaining 47 participating countries/economies.


- Seven countries/economies saw improvements, on average, in the reading, mathematics and science performance of their students throughout their participation in PISA: Albania, Colombia, Macao (China), the Republic of Moldova, Peru, Portugal and Qatar. Seven countries saw declining mean performance across all three subjects: Australia, Finland, Iceland, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the Slovak Republic.


- Between 2003 and 2018, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey and Uruguay enrolled many more 15-year-olds in secondary education without sacrificing the quality of the education provided. Around the world, the share of 15-year-old students, in grade 7 and above, who reached a minimum level of proficiency in reading (at least Level 2 on the PISA scale) ranged from close to 90% in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China), Estonia, Macao (China) and Singapore, to less than 10% in Cambodia, Senegal and Zambia (countries that participated in the PISA for Development assessment in 2017). The share of 15-year-old students who attained minimum levels of proficiency in mathematics (at least Level 2) varied even more – between 98% in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China) and 2% in Zambia. On average across OECD countries, around one in four 15-year-olds did not attain a minimum level of proficiency in reading or mathematics. These numbers show that all countries still have some way to go towards reaching the global goals for quality education, as de ned in the UN Sustainable Development Goal for education, by 2030.


VOLUME II

 

The principle that every person has a fair chance to improve his or her life, whatever his or her personal circumstances, lies at the heart of democratic political and economic institutions. Ensuring that all students have access to the best education opportunities is also a way of using resources effectively, and of improving education and social outcomes in general. Equity in education is a central and long-standing focus of PISA and a major concern of countries around the world. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 advocate for “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all” (United Nations, 2015). Equity does not mean that all students have equal outcomes; rather it means that whatever variations there may be in education outcomes, they are not related to students’ background, including socio-economic status, gender or immigrant background.

PISA measures equity by whether education outcomes, such as access to schooling, student performance, students’ attitudes and beliefs, and students’ expectations for their future, are related to student’s personal background. The weaker the relationship, the more equitable the school system, as all students can flourish in such a system, regardless of their background.

 

WHERE ALL STUDENTS CAN SUCCEED: MAIN FINDINGS

 

Equity related to socio-economic status

• In 11 countries and economies, including the OECD countries Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Japan, Korea, Norway and the United Kingdom, average performance was higher than the OECD average while the relationship between socio-economic status and reading performance was weaker than the OECD average.

• In spite of socio-economic disadvantage, some students attain high levels of academic proficiency. On average across OECD countries, one in ten disadvantaged students was able to score in the top quarter of reading performance in their countries (known as academic resilience), indicating that disadvantage is not destiny. In Australia, Canada, Estonia, Hong Kong (China), Ireland, Macao (China) and the United Kingdom, all of which score above the OECD average, more than 13% of disadvantaged students were academically resilient.

• Disadvantaged students are more or less likely to attend the same schools as high achievers, depending on the school system. In Argentina, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Luxembourg, Peru, Romania, the Slovak Republic, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland, a typical disadvantaged student has less than a one-in-eight chance of attending the same school as high achievers (those who scored in the top quarter of reading performance in PISA. By contrast, in Baku (Azerbaijan), Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Kosovo, Macao (China), Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, disadvantaged students have at least a one-in-five chance of having high-achieving schoolmates.

• On average across OECD countries, 40% of teachers in disadvantaged schools compared with 48% of teachers in advantaged schools had at least a master’s degree.

• In 42 countries and economies, principals of disadvantaged schools were significantly more likely than those of advantaged schools to report that their school’s capacity to provide instruction is hindered by a shortage of education staff. In 46 countries and economies, principals of disadvantaged schools were also more likely to report that a lack or inadequacy of educational material and physical infrastructure hinders instruction.

• Many students, especially disadvantaged students, hold lower ambitions than would be expected given their academic achievement. On average across OECD countries, only seven in ten high-achieving disadvantaged students reported that they expect to complete tertiary education, while nine in ten high-achieving advantaged students reported so. In Austria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, the Republic of Moldova, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland, the difference between the two groups was larger than 25 percentage points.

• On average across OECD countries, more than two in five disadvantaged students reported that they do not know how to find information about student financing (e.g. student loans or grants).


Equity related to gender

 

• In all countries and economies that participated in PISA 2018, girls signi cantly outperformed boys in reading – by 30 score points, on average across OECD countries. The narrowest gender gaps (less than 20 score points) were observed in Argentina, Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and Peru; the widest (more than 50 score points) were observed in Finland, Jordan, the Republic of North Macedonia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

• In Estonia, Ireland, Macao (China), Peru and Singapore, the gender gap in reading performance narrowed between 2009 and 2018; and both boys and girls scored higher in 2018 than their counterparts did in 2009.

• Boys outperformed girls – by ve score points – in mathematics, on average across OECD countries, but girls outperformed boys in science by two score points. While boys signi cantly outperformed girls in mathematics in 31 countries and economies, in 12 countries/economies the opposite pattern was observed. Only in Argentina, Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China), Colombia, Costa Rica Mexico and Peru did boys signi cantly outperform girls in science, while the opposite was true in 34 countries and economies.

• In all countries and economies, girls reported much greater enjoyment of reading than boys. The largest gender gap in enjoyment of reading was observed in Germany, Hungary and Italy and the smallest in Indonesia and Korea. On average across OECD countries in 2018, both boys and girls reported signi cantly less enjoyment of reading than their counterparts did in 2009.

• Only 1% of girls, on average across OECD countries, reported that they want to work in ICT-related occupations, compared with 8% of boys who so reported. In some countries, including Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia and Ukraine, more than 15% of boys reported that they expect to work in an ICT-related profession; but in no PISA-participating country or economy did more than 3% of girls report so. Equity related to immigrant background

• On average across OECD countries, 13% of students in 2018 had an immigrant background, up from 10% in 2009. In most countries, immigrant students tended to be socio-economically disadvantaged; in Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden, at least two out of ve immigrant students were disadvantaged.

• Some 17% of immigrant students scored in the top quarter of reading performance in the country where they sat the PISA test, on average across OECD countries. In Brunei Darussalam, Jordan, Panama, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, more than 30% of immigrant students performed at that level.

• In 21 out of the 43 countries and economies where a relatively large proportion of students had an immigrant background, immigrant students were more likely than their native-born peers to report a goal-oriented attitude.

 

VOLUME III

 

A positive school climate is one of those things that is di cult to de ne and measure, but everyone – including parents – recognises it when they see it. The state of the school’s facilities, the tone of the conversations in corridors, the enthusiasm of the school sta and the way students interact during breaks are some of the signs that visitors can read to quickly and broadly assess a school’s climate. PISA indicators of school climate – the disciplinary climate, students’ sense of belonging at school and teacher support – can be analysed in relation to other PISA data on important student outcomes, such as academic achievement, student misbehaviour and students’ well-being, and to key factors that shape students’ learning, such as teachers’ practices and parental involvement.


Measuring the well-being of 15-year-old students, the target PISA population, is particularly important, as students at this age are in a key transition phase of physical and emotional development. Asking students about themselves gives adolescents the opportunity to express how they feel, what they think of their lives and whether they believe they have the capacity to grow and improve. Even if the well-being indicators examined in this volume do not refer specifically to the school context – for instance, students are asked how satis ed they feel about their lives in general – adolescents spend a large part of their time at school and their peers play a pre-eminent role in their social lives. In fact, students who sat the 2018 PISA test cited three main aspects of their lives that influence how they feel: how satis ed they are with the way they look, with their relationships with their parents, and with life at school.

 

WHAT SCHOOL LIFE MEANS FOR STUDENTS’ LIVES: MAIN FINDINGS

 

School climate - Co-operation amongst students was more prevalent than competition, on average across OECD countries in 2018. Some 62% of students reported that students co-operate with each other while only 50% of students reported that their schoolmates compete with each other.


- On average across OECD countries and in three out of four education systems, students scored higher in reading when they reported greater co-operation amongst their peers. By contrast, there was no clear relationship between the competitiveness of a school environment and student performance. Teachers’ attitudes and practices On average across OECD countries and in 43 education systems, students who perceived greater support from teachers scored higher in reading, after accounting for the socio-economic profile of students and schools. Teacher enthusiasm and teachers’ stimulation of reading engagement were the teaching practices most strongly (and positively) associated with students’ enjoyment of reading. Student misbehaviour - According to students, disciplinary climate in language-of-instruction lessons improved between 2009 and 2018, especially in Albania, Korea and the United Arab Emirates.


- Some 23% of students reported being bullied at least a few times a month, on average across OECD countries.


- Some 88% of students across OECD countries agreed that it is a good thing to help students who cannot defend themselves and it is wrong to join in bullying. Girls and students who were not frequently bullied were more likely to report stronger anti-bullying attitudes than boys and frequently bullied students.


- On average across OECD countries, 21% of students had skipped a day of school and 48% of students had arrived late for school in the two weeks prior to the PISA test. In Georgia, Montenegro, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, at least one in ve students had skipped school at least three times during that period.


- The countries and economies where fewer students had skipped a whole day of school were also the countries/economies with higher average reading performance, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China), Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Korea, Macao (China), Singapore, Sweden and Chinese Taipei.


Students’ well-being

- On average across OECD countries, 67% of students reported being satis ed with their lives (students who reported between 7 and 10 on the 10-point life-satisfaction scale). Between 2015 and 2018, the share of satis ed students shrank by 5 percentage points.
- More than 80% of students reported sometimes or always feeling happy, cheerful, joyful or lively, and about 6% of students reported always feeling sad, on average across OECD countries.


- In almost every education system, girls expressed greater fear of failure than boys, and this gender gap was considerably wider amongst top-performing students.


- In a majority of school systems, students who expressed a greater fear of failure scored higher in reading, but reported less satisfaction with life, than students expressing less concern about failing, after accounting for the socio-economic pro le of students and schools.

 

Students’ belief that their ability and intelligence can develop over time (growth mindset)


- A majority of students disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement “Your intelligence is something about you that you can’t change very much”, on average across OECD countries. However, at least 60% of students in the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kosovo, the Republic of North Macedonia, Panama and the Philippines agreed or strongly agreed with that statement. - On average across OECD countries, having a growth mindset was positively associated with students’ motivation to master tasks, general self-e cacy, setting learning goals and perceiving the value of school; it was negatively associated with their fear of failure. Parents’ involvement in school activities - Parents overwhelmingly cited school safety, school climate and school reputation as the most important criteria when choosing a school for their child, followed closely by students’ academic achievement and the o ering of speci c subjects or courses.
- According to school principals, about 41% of students’ parents discussed their child’s progress with a teacher on their own initiative and 57% did so on the initiative of teachers, on average across OECD countries. However, only 17% of parents participated in local school government and 12% volunteered for physical or extracurricular activities.
- On average across the nine OECD countries that distributed the parent questionnaire, the obstacles that parents most commonly cited as hindering their participation in school activities were time-related, and included the need to work (34%) and the inconvenience of meeting times (33%).

 

Crisis Group, 4 December 2019

The Security Council has an opening to rethink its approach to DR Congo with this month’s mandate renewal of the UN peacekeeping mission. The council should prioritise local conflict resolution and bolstering President Tshisekedi’s efforts to improve regional relations to combat over 100 armed groups ravaging the east.

 

What’s new? The Security Council is seeking new ways to stabilise the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with an eye to drawing down the long-running UN peace operation there. In parallel, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi wants to strike a new security agreement with neighbouring countries to suppress armed groups in the country’s east.

Why does it matter? The persistence of over 100 armed groups in the eastern DRC is a threat to both Congolese civilians and regional stability. The country’s neighbours have also often used these militias as proxies to attack one another and control economic resources.

What should be done? The Security Council should strengthen the UN mission’s capacity to analyse the armed groups’ political links and resolve local grievances these groups can exploit. The UN should support President Tshisekedi’s regional diplomacy, with an emphasis on political reconciliation and economic integration among the DRC’s neighbours as steps to increase security.


I. Overview


The Security Council has to agree on a new mandate for the two decade-old UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by 20 December. In many ways, this exercise is routine. The Council has passed dozens of resolutions on the DRC since the country descended into civil war in the 1990s. Yet Council diplomats think that this negotiation may be more important than most. There are tentative signs that the Congolese government and regional powers in central Africa could work together to mitigate the DRC’s internal instability. The UN may be able to use its diplomacy and peacekeepers to move this process forward.

Over recent years, the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), has prioritised bringing armed groups in the east under control but its track record at best is mixed. In the DRC’s eastern provinces, Ituri and North and South Kivu, dozens of armed groups are still at large, killing civilians and threatening regional stability. The Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), deployed under UN auspices in 2013, helped to defeat the M23 rebel movement but is struggling to rein in remaining armed groups, one of which, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), based in North Kivu, has proven particularly obstinate. While some reports suggest ADF leaders have ties to Islamist networks abroad, in reality, the group is mostly locally embedded. It often fights alongside local militias and exploits communal conflicts to win support. Within both MONUSCO and the Security Council, officials and diplomats disagree on whether the answer lies in better-funded military operations or in efforts to mediate local disputes and win over communities in affected areas.

Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi, who took office in January, has used his first year as chief executive to promote better relations with the DRC’s neighbours, including Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. His core theme has been the need for a joint approach to tackle the armed groups in the eastern DRC. Tshisekedi’s regional counterparts, who have long exploited those groups as proxies, remain highly suspicious of one another, but have all been willing to engage to some degree in military and intelligence talks this year. There is a risk that some or all of the governments involved will use these interactions as cover for increased military interference in the DRC. But there is nonetheless a chance that Tshisekedi will achieve his apparent goal of establishing a new framework for regional cooperation.


The Security Council thus has an opening to rethink its approach to the DRC. Council members have long been frustrated by MONUSCO’s inability to stabilise the east, and most believe that it should draw down gradually in the years ahead. They are nonetheless cautious about how firmly to push for such a drawdown, due to the armed groups’ continued ravages but also because an outbreak of Ebola in eastern DRC has complicated the mission’s work there. Unlike his predecessor, Joseph Kabila, President Tshisekedi signals that he is keen to keep working with the UN to suppress armed groups. Council members have also been encouraged by the president’s regional diplomacy, and generally agree that the UN should now do what it can to help him, even while keeping one eye on an eventual exit.

In its mandate renewal, the Security Council should:

indicate support for President Tshisekedi’s mediation aimed at de-escalating political tensions in the region, whether in the resolution’s text or in statements made upon its approval; UN diplomats in Kinshasa, Kigali and Kampala should do the same. Overall, reducing tensions among DRC and its neighbours should precede any joint military operations;

direct MONUSCO to prioritise political analysis and information gathering as the basis for military decisions, and to back this up with more local mediation efforts targeting warring local communities in ADF-afflicted areas. These efforts would aim to reconcile these communities and then cooperate with them to develop more precise military operations against the ADF, who would also be more likely to demobilise if they lose local support. The FIB should follow this information-driven approach and cooperate with MONUSCO’s wider civilian protection mission; and

ensure that references to the ADF reflect realities on the ground, avoid playing up its transnational ties and defer to the UN mission regarding optimal policies for dealing with the threat the group poses.

 

II. The MONUSCO Dilemma


Diplomats and UN officials in New York tend to agree that the organisation needs a new approach in the DRC. The Security Council dispatched peacekeepers to the country to help end its enormously bloody civil war on 30 November 1999. Twenty years later, MONUSCO consists of over 16,500 soldiers and police officers, more than any other blue helmet operation. Costing over $1 billion a year, it is also the third most expensive UN mission, just behind those in Mali and South Sudan. Many Security Council members, not least the U.S., have asked if MONUSCO has cost too much for too long.

Yet there is no easy exit strategy available. The majority of the country, particularly the west, is relatively calm. A security crisis in the southern region of the Kasai has abated following a MONUSCO surge in the area. Most MONUSCO personnel are deployed in the provinces of Ituri and North and South Kivu in the country’s east. Armed groups killed approximately 1,900 civilians in the Kivus from June 2017 to June 2019, while a surge of fighting in Ituri has displaced over 300,000 people since early June 2019.

The presence of these armed groups is both a source and symptom of regional instability. The DRC’s neighbours – including Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda – have long used groups based on Congolese soil as proxies to threaten one another. Rwandan officials say Uganda, for example, supported an attack by DRC-based exiles on their territory in October.

Some leaders also highlight apparent links between one of these groups, the Allied Democratic Forces, a group that originated in Uganda and is now based in North Kivu, and transnational jihadists, though such connections may be overstated. President Tshisekedi and UN Secretary-General António Guterres have noted reports of cooperation between the ADF and the Islamic State. Guterres used a visit this summer to the DRC to portray the ADF as part of a jihadist network stretching from Libya to Mozambique. Regional intelligence and security sources, however, say the ADF’s links to international jihad are disparate and incidental and that the armed group’s killings of civilians is motivated by local political factors in the DRC itself. Many UN officials share this view.

The UN has tried various strategies to manage these armed groups. Congolese and UN officials have attempted to persuade some to merge their fighters into the ranks of the Congolese army, with limited success. After one group backed by Rwanda, the M23, seized the regional hub of Goma in 2012, the Security Council mandated a stand-alone Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) – consisting of troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi – to “neutralise” the militias. This unit was initially successful, as the M23 collapsed as a major force in 2013, even if some of its veterans now appear to be active with other armed outfits.

The FIB has, however, struggled to deal with groups relying on asymmetric tactics, losing over twenty troops in clashes with the ADF since 2017. The UN’s failure to tackle this problem is a source of public anger. Residents of Beni city set fire to MONUSCO offices last month in protests over the UN’s inability to prevent ADF attacks on civilians that claimed (according to uncertain estimates) over a hundred lives since the start of a new army offensive in November. The situation in the eastern DRC presents the Security Council with a knotty dilemma. Keeping MONUSCO is expensive and offers no clear path to resolving the problem of armed groups. But drawing the mission down rapidly could risk a further spike in the groups’ activities – potentially dragging in their regional patrons – that could both destabilise the eastern DRC further and undermine the legitimacy of the Kinshasa government in the country as a whole.


III. President Tshisekedi’s Positive Impact


Given the eastern DRC’s fragility, no one at the Security Council favours MONUSCO’s full and immediate withdrawal. Yet notwithstanding the continuing challenges in the Kivus and Ituri, many Council members are cautiously optimistic that there is an opening to rethink the UN’s role in the DRC. There are three mains reasons why they are hopeful.

The first is that the DRC’s 2018 presidential election resulted in a fairly smooth transition of power from Joseph Kabila (who had held office since 2001) to Félix Tshisekedi, despite pockets of serious violence and widespread vote-rigging. Council members, nervous that Kabila could spark greater violence to retain power, delayed an in-depth discussion of MONUSCO’s future until after the polls. Once Tshisekedi was in office, they capitalised on the annual Security Council discussion of the mission’s mandate in March to request an independent strategic review of the operations by October. The UN delivered this review on schedule, and it is now in the public domain. It proposes a three-year drawdown of MONUSCO, unless major political upsets block the process.

The second reason for optimism in the Council is that President Tshisekedi seems willing to talk constructively with the UN about what to do with the mission. To be sure, his domestic political base is weak, and he relies on Kabila’s good-will to govern in Kinshasa. Nevertheless, the new president has made a point of establishing positive relations with MONUSCO. In stark contrast to Kabila, who increasingly saw the UN as an obstacle to his ability to hold onto power and often in private demanded MONUSCO’s withdrawal, Tshisekedi has signalled that he wants to work with the UN to defeat the armed groups in the east. His attitude makes it easier for the Council to propose changes to the mission that will allow it first to confront the eastern threat and then begin a drawdown without worrying that Kinshasa will pull the rug out from under it first.

The final reason for Security Council members’ relative positivity is that Tshisekedi has also made improving relations with the country’s neighbours a priority, urging them to consider coordinating joint operations against armed groups on Congolese territory. The feasibility and wisdom of these ideas is uncertain, given that some of his neighbours still support proxy armed groups in the eastern DRC, but the president has flagged the possibility of a different approach to dealing with violence in the Kivus and Ituri that does not rest on an open-ended MONUSCO presence. At the very least, Tshisekedi has attempted to broker a de-escalation of tensions between two important regional neighbours, Rwanda and Uganda, which have fought each other directly, and through proxies, on Congolese soil. While Tshisekedi’s proposal for a new generation of coordinated anti-armed group operations with his neighbours could backfire – creating an alibi for regional powers to target their rival’s allies and boost their own proxies – his overall emphasis on regional cooperation is encouraging.

As a result, Security Council members can see a pathway, albeit an arduous one, out of their dilemma over what to do with MONUSCO. This pathway could involve a final push to deal with the armed groups in the eastern DRC involving MONUSCO, accompanied by an effort led from Kinshasa to resolve regional frictions that have fuelled those groups. It does not offer MONUSCO a quick exit. The UN would, at a minimum, have to invest more in stabilisation efforts in the east in the near and medium term. It is not at all clear that these efforts will bear sufficient fruit within three years to roll up the mission in 2022 or 2023. Moreover, Council members are keenly aware that the DRC will gear up for a new presidential election in 2023, and many suspect that the UN will need to stay on to support this round of polls.

Nonetheless, with these developments in mind it is worth asking, first, if there is a realistic chance of dealing with the threat of armed groups like the ADF militarily in the medium term; and, secondly, whether President Tshisekedi can advance relations among the DRC’s neighbours on security cooperation in the same period to a point where a real regional settlement to end the armed groups problem is conceivable. It is also necessary to reflect on how the UN could help such a regional settlement come together. If the UN, regional powers and the Congolese authorities can make progress on these parallel tracks, it may be possible to build a robust framework for maintaining peace in the eastern DRC that does not rely on the indefinite presence of peacekeepers.

 

IV. The UN and Armed Groups: The Case of the ADF


The main sticking point in Security Council discussions of the next MONUSCO mandate concerns the use of military force against armed groups. Since 2013, there has been a split within MONUSCO between the FIB – meant to focus on “neutralising” armed groups through offensive operations – and the rest of the force, which concentrates on protecting civilians through patrols, establishing area security and other deterrent measures.

While in 2013, the FIB helped defeat Rwandan-backed M23 rebels – which used fairly conventional military tactics to seize and hold territory, many Council members and DRC-based UN officials complain that it has since become too cautious and lacks the skills necessary to counter guerrillas such as the ADF. Whereas the M23 was a clearly identified rebel army attempting to capture specific patches of territory, the ADF’s tactics are different. It targets the army, but also combines forces with local militias, stirs up communal conflicts and perpetrates massacres of civilians, often at night, under opaque circumstances. A number of Council members – including France, the UK and the U.S. – would like to see the FIB refocus on civilian protection tasks similar to the rest of the mission, perhaps acknowledging that an all-out military strategy to defeat the ADF is unrealistic.

South Africa, which is both a lead contributor to the FIB and a member of the Security Council in 2019-2020, has countered that the main problem its personnel faces is a lack of good situational and signals intelligence to track down groups such as the ADF. Pretoria, which brokered the political deal ending Congo’s war in 2003 does not want the FIB to lose its status as an offensive force with its own chain of command separate from that at MONUSCO headquarters. It sees the FIB as a source of influence over Kinshasa at a time when President Tshisekedi appears to be prioritising relations with his central African neighbours, including Rwanda. Tanzania, the other major FIB contributor, which like South Africa has frosty relations with Rwanda, supports this view. President Tshisekedi, meanwhile, has indicated that he could support more joint operations between the FIB and the Congolese army (though the fact that some army officers have links to armed groups could compromise such cooperation).

Whatever the FIB’s wider significance to various regional actors, some UN officials are sceptical that its relatively poor performance against the ADF derives from lack of resources. Instead, they argue that the brigade relies too heavily on offensive tactics designed to deal with conventional military threats, such as the M23, rather than a counter-insurgency model based on deep knowledge of areas of ADF influence.

The dispute pitches Pretoria against the Security Council’s permanent members and is divisive in New York, but also arguably conceals more fundamental differences within MONUSCO about how to handle armed groups. These are well illustrated by the case of the ADF, which is not only the most violent group in the eastern DRC, but also has alleged ties to transnational jihadists. These links, while arguably overstated, nonetheless complicate policies aimed at containing it.

The challenge of how to deal with the ADF is a polarising issue in MONUSCO beyond the FIB. On one hand, some of the mission’s military planners are predisposed to participate in the Congolese army’s strikes against the ADF, which they portray as an Islamic State-linked terrorist outfit. MONUSCO uses drones but also relies on the army’s intelligence to identify suspected ADF camps and fix targets. Some of the mission’s civilian analysts, on the other hand, complain that conducting military operations in this way is at best risky and at worst flawed. They say that aerial surveillance alone can be misleading, in that it may identify armed elements that pose no immediate security threat unless they are provoked. Relying too heavily on this methodology means that MONUSCO military planners are often less inclined to account for local politics in ADF-influenced areas, where the armed group is often inter-woven into murky communal conflicts. As a result, MONUSCO’s military planners are often less aware than they should be about whether their planned operations risk kicking open a hornet’s nest.

Moreover, the ADF has also developed allies within the army, who in turn often leak information about jointly planned operations with MONUSCO. Some civilian staff therefore point out that joint army operations fail to kill many ADF fighters, often provoke ADF commanders into retaliatory killing sprees against civilians – including those whom they believe collaborated with the army in targeting them – and as a result spark tensions among locals who blame each other for massacres. Popular anger is often then directed at MONUSCO. Protesters’ recent torching of the mission’s offices in Beni following army operations and ADF reprisals is an unprecedented reaction that raises questions about whether the mission’s perceived ties to the army in turn expose the UN to being identified by some parts of the population as a party to the conflict.

That the ADF is deeply embedded in local politics makes it a particularly thorny challenge. While the group, which migrated from Uganda to North Kivu in the 1990s, has links to Islamist networks operating out of mosques in the eastern DRC and elsewhere, it also has a web of equally or more important relationships with local power-brokers including chiefs, other militias and senior army officers, according to MONUSCO officials and UN Security Council investigators. ADF commanders have settled and even married into communities in the chieftaincy of Bambuba Kisiki, near Beni, where they manipulate local power disputes among rival chiefs. These disputes started widening in 2014 as the country geared up for the presidential election that was supposed to take place in 2016. Some chiefs cooperated with the army, while others grew closer to anti-government armed groups. The ADF often found itself on opposing sides of such conflicts, acting as mercenaries available to all.

Recognising these complexities, MONUSCO’s leadership has tried in the past to develop what it has referred to internally as a “comprehensive approach” to neutralising the armed group. On paper, this approach would involve using MONUSCO’s civilian staff analysis of the ADF’s sophisticated relationships to local and national political actors as a guide for military planners considering how best to target the group. If implemented, such analysis would include assessments on how to work with and reconcile rival local communities so they might collectively renounce their links to the ADF and provide MONUSCO with reliable information on where to interdict the armed group or arrest its commanders.

In practice however, the “comprehensive approach” has been too complicated to organise. MONUSCO military planners prefer to draw on the information civilian analysts have, but keep them out of the room when they finally develop their battle plans, citing the need for operational secrecy. By the same token, MONUSCO’s civil affairs section, which works most closely with local communities, shies away from proactively investigating links between chiefs and the ADF, with civil affairs staff saying their terms of reference relate to communal tensions and not armed groups.

The debate over MONUSCO’s future is, therefore, a chance not only to review the FIB’s role within MONUSCO but also the mission’s overall approach to military and civilian information gathering and decision-making. The independent review of the mission delivered to the Security Council in October refers to the need for an “intelligence-backed approach” in dealing with the ADF.

A few steps would help. MONUSCO should invest more resources in developing a better understanding of the armed group’s links to local communities, in Bambuba-Kisiki and elsewhere, by hiring more researchers who can investigate these links. When brokering peace deals between chiefs, UN officials should encourage them to renounce their links to the ADF, while promising to increase deployments in their areas to protect their communities from retribution. If the mission is able to develop its own understanding of all local conflict actors, it will also be in a position to advocate to the army where it should focus military operations, instead of being pulled into operations by army commanders who may have motivations other than to neutralise the ADF. By working with locals to flush out the ADF, the UN may also stand a better chance of negotiating disarmament with the armed group without resorting to offensive military operations.


V. Getting Regional Diplomacy Right


Félix Tshisekedi’s emergence as a champion of regional cooperation has taken some observers by surprise. The president, whose ascension to office was marred by credible accusations of vote-rigging in the 2018 presidential election, has no military experience or significant knowledge of the eastern DRC. He has also had to navigate serious tensions between his Rwandan and Ugandan counterparts, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni. Kagame accuses Museveni of supporting Rwandan rebels, including militias in the Kivus, and Rwandan intelligence officials believe that Uganda is colluding with Burundi in this intervention. Museveni has in turn purged his security services of officials alleged to be close to Kigali. Relations hit a low in February, when Rwanda closed a commercially important border crossing to Uganda.

Despite these frictions, Tshisekedi and Angolan President João Lourenço – the two newest leaders in the region – have pushed for regional reconciliation. They hosted quadripartite meetings with Kagame and Museveni in July and August. At the second of those meetings, the Rwandan and Ugandan leaders signed an agreement committing to end their dispute, though tensions persist between them. In addition to leaders’ meetings, the intelligence chiefs of the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania gathered in June in Kinshasa to discuss how to counter the threat posed by armed groups in the eastern DRC. They met again in November, and the Burundian intelligence chief also participated in this second conclave.

This flurry of diplomatic activity precipitated discussions of military cooperation in the eastern DRC. Though Tshisekedi appears to have been open to working with a range of neighbours, including southern African states, Rwanda moved fastest to table ideas for a new framework for cross-border operations as part of a regional rapprochement in the summer. In October, in an apparent response to Rwanda’s proposal, the Congolese army outlined a potential arrangement under which forces from neighbouring countries could launch offensives against militias on Congolese territory under its oversight.

It is unclear if this proposal will prove feasible. At a regional meeting in late October, Uganda refused to agree to the creation of an “integrated chief of staff” to coordinate the region’s militaries. Concerned that Rwanda would exploit the regional coalition to entrench its forces in the DRC, Kampala has indicated that it prefers to coordinate cross-border missions bilaterally with the Congolese army. Nonetheless, Presidents Tshisekedi and Museveni have continued to discuss the issue, and further regional talks are expected to take place.

While discussions among the leaders are welcome, the military proposal raises serious concerns. There is a risk that, despite their supposed cooperation, the DRC’s neighbours will use their license to operate on Congolese soil as an opportunity to boost proxy forces and target long-time enemies to their own advantage. The resulting operations could fuel fighting, exact a heavy toll on Congolese civilians and further erode their already limited faith in the army, if it appears to be subservient to other states’ militaries.

Overall, proposals for military cooperation are likely to be effective only if they are tied to political efforts by regional powers to resolve the broader differences –concerning influence in the region, access to natural resources, historical ties to rebel movements and competition for control over the authorities in Kinshasa – that led them to use the eastern DRC as a proxy battlefield in the first place. There is a need for de-escalation and confidence-building efforts among Kigali, Kampala and Bujumbura to reduce their overall distrust. The Tshisekedi-Lourenço effort to ease Rwandan-Ugandan tensions has been a step in this direction, even if not a complete success. Rather than rush toward military cooperation in isolation, President Tshisekedi should encourage his counterparts to engage in more extensive political de-escalation initiatives before they send troops across the border.

As for the UN, it has some capacity to influence Great Lakes regional diplomacy. While MONUSCO does not have a mandate to engage in regional security issues, the separate office of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes – based in Nairobi – is explicitly tasked with promoting regional cooperation. While focusing on the specifics of the MONUSCO mandate in December, Security Council members acknowledge that this matter cannot be detached from the special envoy’s work with the DRC’s neighbours.

At the start of this year, Secretary-General Guterres appointed Huang Xia – the first Chinese civilian official to hold a UN peace and security mandate at this level – as envoy. Xia was instrumental in crafting the intelligence chiefs’ meetings but has otherwise moved cautiously in promoting regional cooperation, focusing more on economic relations than on political affairs as he has built up working relations with regional leaders.

Some Security Council members would like to see Xia talk more about security and political matters and speculate that he could leverage Beijing’s economic clout in central Africa to create incentives for closer DRC-Rwanda-Uganda cooperation. In the immediate term, the envoy is also looking to play a greater role in addressing tensions in Burundi in the run-up to the 2020 elections. But in the longer-term, forging a sustainable regional framework for addressing security challenges between the DRC and its neighbours could be his most significant task. Xia’s office has been working on a new strategy for the Great Lakes that will hopefully clarify how it can support a framework for security in the eastern DRC alongside MONUSCO.


VI. Conclusion


Even as Security Council diplomats recognise that the time is not ripe for major changes to MONUSCO, the forthcoming mandate renewal presents an opportunity to bolster President Tshisekedi’s efforts to forge new regional relationships. Council members should use the renewal to signal their strong support for these efforts, whether in the resolution’s text or in their statements on its approval, and ensure that their representatives in Kinshasa, Kigali and Kampala press this point with their interlocutors.

In the meantime, the council should use this mandating process to direct MONUSCO to prioritise political analysis and information gathering as the basis for its military decisions, and to back this up with more local mediation efforts targeting ADF-afflicted areas with the aim of reconciling the residents and then identifying, sidelining or, if necessary, militarily defeating ADF fighters. While it may be necessary to compromise on the FIB’s status in the mission, the Council should insist that the FIB also follow this information-driven approach and cooperate with the wider mission on civilian protection. Council members should be careful about how they refer to the ADF, ensuring that their comments reflect the realities of a group that is largely locally rooted, rather than motivated by international jihadist agendas.

Overall, the Council and other UN actors – including Secretary-General Guterres, MONUSCO’s leadership and Special Envoy Xia – should aim to send common messages about the parallel priorities of 1) local conflict resolution in the eastern DRC and 2) regional de-escalation efforts to cut off support for the armed groups. If the UN system in the DRC and Great Lakes can focus on achieving these priorities, there may be an opportunity to put the region’s stability on a surer footing as the Security Council mulls the conditions for MONUSCO’s exit.

Nairobi/New York/Brussels, 4 December 2019

 

 

By Constanze Stelzenmüller, Brookings, November 2019

Thirty years after the end of history: Elements of an education


When the revolution happened, I was not there for it. To be exact, I was 3,776 miles away in Somerville, Massachusetts. On the clear, chilly afternoon of November 9, 1989, I was sitting at my desk in the drafty wooden double-decker house whose upper-level apartment I shared with three other graduate students, mulling over an early chapter of my doctoral thesis on direct democracy in America. Hunched over library books on Puritan town meetings, I clasped a mug of steaming tea, swaddled in scarf and sweater, and beneath it all, very probably wearing my L.L. Bean double-layered thermal long underwear, essential for survival in a New England winter.

The house phone rang, and continued to ring insistently. It was another West German student. We were used to ribbing each other about our politics, hers crisply conservative, mine vaguely liberal. She said, without preface: “Turn on the TV, the wall is gone.” Annoyed that I’d lost my train of thought, I retorted grumpily that she’d have to be more creative if she wanted to play one of her right-wing political jokes on me. She merely repeated: “Turn. On. The. TV.” Shocked, I did as I was told, and stared in disbelief at the inconceivable, the impossible: fuzzy shots, in grainy black and white, of tens of thousands of people waving sledgehammers and champagne bottles, dancing and singing — on top of the Berlin Wall, for 28 years one of the most deadly borders on the planet. Many people were chanting “Wir sind das Volk,” we are the people.

Direct democracy in action, live — and in Germany

Then, to my surprise, I burst into tears.

At the end of World War I, one of my grandfathers was a 22-year-old private in the German Imperial Army, while the other was a 19-year-old petty officer on a submarine. As World War II drew to a close, my father was 17, a very relieved and grateful American prisoner-of-war. In the closing months of the Cold War, I was a graduate student in the United States. Officially, I was writing a doctoral thesis, but my hope was to stay, reinvent myself in the great American tradition, and escape the baggage of my German heritage for good. I was all of 27.

War, despair, defeat, and shame had schooled the generations of my grandparents and parents before they ever had a chance to set foot in a place of higher learning. I, in stark contrast, had contrived to string out my adolescence through two university degrees and now a third. As the daughter of a West German diplomat, I was worldly in some ways and laughably callow in others. My real education began (as I was to appreciate later and very gradually) in 1989.

So I can make no claim to shed new light on the events of 30 years ago, on their causes, on their interpretation, or on their lasting effects. I leave that to the politicians who were there and made decisions, or the historians who have studied the files and interviewed participants. Others were agents or observers of history in those heady weeks and months. I was very much its object: thrilled, but very confused.

Instead, this is a frankly subjective and fragmentary look at what I began to learn in that year, and in the three decades thereafter: first as a journalist, and later as a think tanker. I had a great deal of catching up to do. The lessons in store were not small, nor were the topics: war, peace, and memory, prosperity and inequality, democracy and transformation, freedom and identity.

In that sense at least, I may be representative of my generation of West Germans, for whom the miracle of November 9, 1989 — what Timothy Garton Ash has called “that night of wonders, [which] changed everything forever: in Berlin, Germany, Europe, the world” — was mostly an unearned gift. A gift that we have tried, for the past three decades, to understand and live up to as it unfolded around us.


Walls, it seems, are making a worldwide comeback


Today, that seems more urgent than ever: with a White House bent on disrupting the post-Cold War order, a surging China asserting itself as a power player in the trans-Atlantic space, a Russian president crowing that the liberal idea “has outlived its purpose,” and a deeply divided and fearful Europe looking at a proxy war in Ukraine and growing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. Populism is rocking Western societies everywhere. In Germany, the hard right calls the country’s constitutional order “illegitimate.” Walls, it seems, are making a worldwide comeback.


1989: Ends / Beginnings


For my generation of West Germans, the wall had been an eternal fixture of our lives. We had never known our country any other way than hacked in two by an 866-mile long frontier of high metal fences fortified with barbed wire, mines, booby-traps, and 50,000 heavily armed guards, from the Baltic Sea to what was then still Czechoslovakia. This “inner-German frontier” was itself part of the Iron Curtain, the 4,300-mile boundary that cut off the Soviet Union and its satellite states in the Warsaw Pact from Western Europe, reaching from the Arctic Circle to the Black Sea. The actual wall — a 97-mile-long double concrete barrier punctuated with guard towers and the so-called “death strip” (fitted with trip-wire machine guns, guard dog runs, and trenches) in the middle — surrounded West Berlin, turning it into a Western enclave in the middle of East Germany, known formally as the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

It had been built because by the early 1960s, nearly three-and-a-half million people, some 20% of the population, of communist-ruled and Soviet-occupied East Germany had circumvented emigration restrictions and fled to the West via the then still-permissive border through Berlin. On June 15, 1961, Chairman of the State Council of the GDR Walter Ulbricht told an international press conference in his high, reedy voice: “Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten.” No one has the intention of building a wall. On midnight of Saturday, August 12, 1961, the border between West and East Berlin was closed off with barbed wire. Construction began the next morning.

In the nearly three decades that followed, some 75,000 people who attempted to escape from East Germany to the West were caught and punished for the crime of “Republikflucht,” deserting the republic. More than 5,000 East Germans successfully defected to West Berlin. An estimated 140 people died attempting to cross the Berlin wall, whether by jumping out of buildings or trains, swimming through the Spree river, trying to climb over the fortifications, or flying over them in a balloon; most were shot by border guards. Hundreds more died along the inner-German border, or trying to escape across the Baltic Sea.

The wall was, of course, much more than a mere physical barrier. For one, it was a potent symbol of the post-war superpower standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, a reminder that should the Cold War ever turn hot, Germany — both Germanies — would be its central, most lethal battlefield. It was assumed that after a few weeks of conventional warfare, the hostilities would turn nuclear, reducing our country to a smoking field of ashes. Even more importantly, the wall was a punishment. It was an implacable, everlasting reminder of the crimes perpetrated in the Holocaust. In my mind, images of the wall were always superimposed with images of other fences, guard towers, and barbed wire: Auschwitz, Bełżec, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Chełmno, Majdanek, Mauthausen, Sobibór, Treblinka, and many others. Memorials of unforgivable evil.

When the Berlin Wall fell, it did so — in the words of the historian Mary Elise Sarotte (quoting a phrase coined by Ernest Hemingway about bankruptcy) — “gradually and then suddenly.”

The gradual part came in the form of “many circumstances and events, both major and minor,” as Serbian diplomat and democracy activist Ivan Vejvoda wrote in 2014: the protesters in East Germany in 1953, in Hungary in 1956, in Czechoslovakia in 1968, and in Poland in 1981; the Helsinki Accords of 1975; and the appearance of a new leader at the helm of the Soviet Union in 1985, who began relinquishing Moscow’s grip on the Soviet satellite countries. “This led to cascading openings — the shredding of authoritarian structures, the progressive espousal of democratic political institutions, and the gradual evolution of market economies based on the rule of law — in Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania.” Vejvoda adds that Western political, economic, and military pressure — not least President Ronald Reagan’s escalation of the Cold War arms race and his entreaty “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” — contributed significantly to the build-up of pressure along the geopolitical fault line of the Iron Curtain.

The sudden part began in the early evening of November 9, when the Politbüro member Günter Schabowski misinterpreted a statement that he was supposed to read to a press conference, saying East Germans would be permitted to travel abroad “sofort, unverzüglich” — right away, immediately. Politicians in West Berlin and citizens in East Berlin decided to take him at his word. At around 11:30pm, a senior Stasi officer at the Bornholmer Strasse crossing, faced with a huge crowd, told two sentries to open the main gate. The cheering masses swept through. The wall did not actually fall, of course. But thousands of people took pickaxes and hammers to it that very night. That was the beginning of the end of its physical presence. Today, only a few segments remain standing in their original place: an erstwhile symbol of fear now covered in colorful graffiti. The rest, smashed to pieces large and small, has travelled around the globe, from slabs that were airlifted in their entirety to tiny shards transported in the pockets of tourists.


The wall was brought down by the courage and determination of many


“The principal legacy of 1989,” Vejvoda added, “is one of the resilience and courage of individuals and whole societies.” The wall was brought down by the courage and determination of many: the shipbuilders and steelworkers of the Polish Solidarność movement; Hungarian and Czech activists; Russian dissidents; East German church congregations; and finally the tens of thousands who marched, candles in their hands, in Leipzig each Monday from September 4 onwards; the East German security forces who did not shoot at them; their leaders who did not give orders to shoot; and many multitudes of others. Not a few West Germans had pitched in, writing letters to prison directors in the USSR, or smuggling printers’ ink into Poland and dissidents’ letters out of Moscow. Some later became my friends. To my regret, I was not one of them at the time.

As it happened, I was rather less aware of what lay on the other side of the wall and the Iron Curtain than many other Germans my age. With a father in the foreign service, I had grown up in London, Washington, and Madrid, with only a five-year childhood interlude in Bonn, West Germany’s capital during the Cold War. We had never been posted to the Eastern Bloc, nor did we have relatives in East Germany. Given my father’s job, my crossing into Warsaw Pact territory as a curious tourist was out of the question; I would have been an easy intelligence target. So the half of Europe that lay east of the inner-German border was a blank space on my mental map. For me, Dresden was at least as far away as Arkhangelsk.

To ignorance I added, alas, indifference. My liberal parents were proud that German chancellor Willy Brandt had signed the Warsaw Treaty (which accepted the post-war border demarcations between Germany and Poland) on December 7, 1970 and revered him for having gone to his knees to beg forgiveness in the Warsaw Ghetto on the same day. Many people who voted right-of-center (my maternal grandparents included) considered him a traitor for the same reasons. Some of the most vocal and unrepentant among these critics were representatives of the associations of ethnic German deportees who had been driven westwards from Eastern Europe. I was disgusted by many conservatives’ utter lack of empathy for the victims of Nazi Germany, and so I saw no need to empathize with their losses. As far as I was concerned, the Warsaw Pact was welcome to all of it, forever.

The matter of the 16 million Germans living in the GDR was more complicated. At home, my parents left no doubt that we were lucky to be citizens of a democracy, and part of free Europe and the West. But it was common currency in West German left-of-center milieus — this included many of my school teachers and some of my fellow university students — to believe that the Federal Republic was somehow tainted: by permitting many Nazis big and small to escape punishment; by the presence of large numbers of American, British, and French occupation forces; by capitalism and Coca-Cola. Was the Other Germany, so much more spartan and egalitarian, not a better, purer version of us? Much of this struck me as self-serving and wrong, but I also didn’t want to be on the side of the revisionists and their propaganda. And so I remained willfully, shamefully blind to the bleakness and brutality of life on the other side of what the GDR cynically called “the anti-fascist protection rampart” until after it disappeared.

Why then — given that I knew little and believed I cared less — did I burst into tears on November 9? The summer of 1989 had been an eventful one. I had already choked up once in front of the TV on June 4, at the images of the massacre on Tiananmen Square. Yet on the same day, Solidarność — the former underground movement had only been legalized in April — won the elections in Poland, triggering a series of peaceful anti-communist revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe.

Later that summer, my mother fainted on home leave, and was found to have a large brain tumor. She spent the following months in various intensive care units, and I flew back and forth between Boston and Frankfurt to be with the family. We would be at her hospital bedside, bleary-eyed and anxious, each morning at 8am. But my indomitable mother insisted on us reading the news from Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the Baltics, and finally East Germany to her first thing every day.

My father and mother had, at ages 17 and 11, witnessed the apocalyptic end of the Third Reich, and found themselves alive, quite unexpectedly, to become part of the generation that was to rebuild Germany and Europe. Unlike me, they grasped immediately and passionately what I could only vaguely intuit: how much despair and courage it took to march in the streets, knowing the ruthlessness of the communist regimes, and the terrible odds against success. We were terrified that it would all end in gunshots and bloodshed, like in Beijing.

The tears I shed on seeing those grainy images of the dancers on the wall were sobs of relief, of joy, and of awe. Awe at those East Germans who had stood up with quiet dignity to the threat of overwhelming, ruthless counterforce, who had demanded and taken their freedom without a single act of violence (and notably in the absence of any kind of unified leadership). Who had given Germany — the “belated nation,” as the German philosopher and sociologist Hellmuth Plessner called it, and country of so many failed uprisings and thwarted resistance movements — its first nonviolent and successful grassroots revolution. A lesson that history can have moments of amazing grace.

For my parents’ generation, and by extension for my generation as well, any emotion that purported to attach to country, nation, or people had become inherently suspect.
And why was I so surprised by my own feelings? For my parents’ generation (the children of World War II), and by extension for my generation as well, any emotion that purported to attach to country, nation, or people had become inherently suspect. The very words describing them — Heimat, Nation, Volk — had been rendered toxic by the National Socialists. My shock also marked the release from an emotional prohibition. These were real people, our people, not abstractions, and it was alright to care what happened to them.

That night also transformed the deep ambivalence I had harbored about my own country. After I’d finished high school in Madrid in 1979, I was reluctantly shipped to Bonn for university. Having witnessed firsthand the first three years of Spain’s dramatic transformation from one of Europe’s most backward and poor dictatorships to a vibrant democracy, I thought that my fellow students had very little appreciation of their freedoms, their prosperity, and the general well-orderedness of public affairs. Instead, they seemed paralyzed by the future as much as by their past. Apocalyptic fears of nuclear war, poisoned soils, and dying forests ran rampant. The founders of the far-left Baader-Meinhof terror group were in prison, but their acolytes continued on their killing spree. (The car-bomb assassination of Deutsche Bank’s board speaker Alfred Herrhausen on November 30 is also part of Germany’s 1989.)

In Bonn, government ministries were still protected with steel fences and razor wire, and armored personnel carriers patrolled the streets. My law studies were punctuated by huge demonstrations against the nuclear arms race and the stationing of Pershing II mid-range missiles. At their height — 500,000 in June 1982 — they more than doubled the population of Bonn. The yelling, jostling, and sweating throngs made it quite difficult to navigate to class.

Not that I was eager to get there. I had been appalled to find how many of my law professors preserved a glacial omertà about the entanglement of their own academic fathers in National Socialism, and the indispensable role of the legal profession as architects and enablers of the Third Reich and the Shoah. Many of my fellow students appeared unconcerned about this, but then a lot of the men were members of dueling fraternities, which were notorious for their hidebound conservatism. The filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta had given the era one of its most lasting descriptions when she titled a film based on the life of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist Gudrun Ensslin “Die bleierne Zeit” — A Time of Lead.

The Cold War, the division of Europe, and a parental generation scarred and traumatized by war: that, we believed, was the new forever normal, our fate until old age. Getting a scholarship to Harvard in 1986 was a huge stroke of good luck. I fled to America, hoping to find a way to stay there for good.

And now here I was in Boston three years later, watching incredulously as Berliners from both sides of the “death strip” celebrated the biggest and most raucous family get-together the country had ever seen. If all these Easterners wanted to be with us … maybe there was something to like, or even love, about my country after all.

Like 1776 in the United States and 1789 in France, 1989 was to be the foundational moment for a new Germany. And not just Germany. Even then, few dared imagine what the events of those months would unleash. But before the year was out, communist leaders were toppled in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. On October 3, 1990, under the enlightened leadership of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and U.S. President George H.W. Bush (with the consent of the USSR’s leader Mikhail Gorbachev and the deeply reluctant toleration of French President François Mitterrand and U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher), the two Germanies once more became one and fully sovereign. In November 1990, most European governments, the United States, Canada, and the Soviet Union signed the Charter of Paris, which laid the foundation for the new security architecture of Europe and the creation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Its preamble declared:

The era of confrontation and division of Europe has ended. We declare that henceforth our relations will be founded on respect and co-operation. Europe is liberating itself from the legacy of the past. The courage of men and women, the strength of the will of the peoples and the power of the ideas of the Helsinki Final Act have opened a new era of democracy, peace and unity in Europe.

In July of 1991, the Warsaw Pact dissolved itself. In September of the same year, the three Baltic Republics achieved independence. By the end of December, the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. In 1999, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland become members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); seven more Central and Eastern European countries joined them in 2004. Eight former Warsaw Pact members joined the European Union in 2004, with Romania and Bulgaria following in 2007. Less than two decades after the events of 1989, almost all of Europe was — as President George H.W. Bush had foretold in 1989 — “whole and free.” Today, NATO counts 29 members (30 once North Macedonia joins), and the European Union 28 (still including the United Kingdom).

So the toppling of the Berlin Wall was both consequence and prelude, a part of something much greater: a genuinely European revolution, powerfully heralded by a Polish pope, enabled by the last president of the Soviet Union, and midwifed and nurtured by the United States. Its impact, however, rippled around the world, empowering civil societies to end authoritarian regimes in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The interpretive consensus of the day was epitomized in Francis Fukuyama’s famous essay “The End of History,” which declared the “total exhaustion of viable systemic alternatives to liberalism” and went on to suggest that this might be “the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

We were the world champions of atonement. We had earned the peace dividend, and we intended to enjoy it.
Nowhere did the theory of the end of history and the victory of the West through democratic transformation and the spread of a rules-based international order find more enthusiastic applause than in Germany. Having been two nervous frontline states for 45 years, we were now an 80-million-citizen powerhouse in the middle of Europe, and — as Defense Minister Volker Rühe put it memorably in 1992 — “encircled by friends.” We were, after all, the world champions of atonement. We had earned the peace dividend, or so we felt, and we intended to enjoy it.

Or, as the diplomat Thomas Bagger noted wryly in his recent essay “The World According to Germany: Reassessing 1989”:

Toward the end of a century marked by having been on the wrong side of history twice, Germany finally found itself on the right side. What had looked impossible, even unthinkable, for decades suddenly seemed to be not just real, but indeed inevitable. …

Best of all, while Germany would still have to transform its new regions in the East, the former GDR, the country in a broader sense had already arrived at its historical destination: it was a stable parliamentary democracy with its own well-tested and respected social market economy. While many other countries around the globe would have to transform, Germany could remain as is, waiting for the others to gradually adhere to its model. It was just a matter of time.

I went back home on December 5, 1989, less than a month after the fall of the wall. I needed to be near my family. But I also wanted to be there for a new chapter of Europe’s history.

 

2019: Lessons learned / Not learned

 


Thirty years have now passed since 1989. History, it turned out, did not end that year. Nor did war, inequality, authoritarianism, or great power competition. If anything, they are ramping up fiercely: in the world, and increasingly in Europe, too.

Wars, genocides, and ethnic cleansing in the former member states of Yugoslavia, the African Great Lakes, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya, as well as in Georgia and Ukraine — many of which continue to this day — have profoundly challenged the West’s values, and forced it repeatedly to deploy considerable economic or military power, as well as diplomatic capital, to stop the bloodshed and attempt to create conditions for peace. Success, it has to be said, has been mixed at best.

When al-Qaida attacked America on September 11, 2001, it took a swing at the main pillar of the trans-Atlantic alliance, and the liberal international order. The pillar remained standing, but the world saw it tremble. The global financial crisis of 2008, which enriched a few and impoverished many, undercut the liberal consensus on the universal benefits of globalization and morphed into a eurozone crisis which bitterly divided Europe.

Today, the trans-Atlantic alliance as well as the European project are in great disarray and riven by self-doubt.
The 2011 Arab Spring destabilized the Middle East and its turn towards tragedy, particularly in Syria and Libya, escalated Europe’s migration crisis to a new level in 2015, challenging governments and lighting a fuse under hard-right, ethno-chauvinist political groups across the West. These groups have deepened Europe’s divisions and raised questions about the viability and legitimacy of representative, pluralist, and open democracies in the modern world. Authoritarians are in power in Hungary and Poland. Illiberal great powers like Russia and China cannily exploit fissures in the West for their own purposes. Today, the transatlantic alliance as well as the European project are in great disarray and riven by self-doubt.

Reunified Germany spent a quarter-century offering excruciatingly slow responses to ever more urgent demands by its neighbors and allies that it exert greater weight in Europe. What The Economist dubbed in 2013 the “reluctant hegemon” woke up the following year: Its president, foreign minister, and defense minister all vowed at the 2014 Munich Security Conference that the Berlin Republic would henceforth assume a responsibility in line with its immensely increased economic power.

But five years later, the national mood has shifted drastically. Once confident and determined, Germans are now nervous and glum. Today, we are no longer George H.W. Bush’s preferred “partner in leadership,” (a partnership that finally came into being with the close cooperation between Barack Obama and Angela Merkel) but Donald Trump’s “bad, very bad” Germany. As the memorandum of a July 2019 phone conversation between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy showed (Trump: “Germany does almost nothing for you.” Zelenskiy: “Yes you are absolutely right.”), other leaders these days attempt to score points by joining in the chorus. Berlin’s relations with many of its European peers have soured. Its economy may be heading for a recession. Chancellor Merkel, in her fourth term, is helming a fractious grand coalition government; she often looks profoundly tired.

Worst of all, the euphoric family reunion of 1989 has become an increasingly bitter dispute about the relationship between Germany’s western and eastern states. A nationwide poll in January 2019 showed that 52% of east Germans (as opposed to only 26% of west Germans) thought that their regional origin still set them apart. In exit surveys conducted for the September 1 regional elections in the eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony, 59% and 66% of those polled, respectively, agreed that “East Germans are second-class citizens.” The hard-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) plays on these grievances expertly. In a cynical reprise of the vocabulary of the demonstrations of 30 years ago, it calls on east German voters to “resist” (suggesting they are still living in a dictatorship), and urges them to “Vollende die Wende!,” complete the revolution. Even Chancellor Angela Merkel (an East German herself) had to acknowledge the deep divide in an October 3 speech on the 29th anniversary of reunification. “We have to learn to understand that, and why, reunification was not an unequivocally positive experience for many people in the eastern German states.”

As for myself, after turning in my dissertation, I interned at a daily newspaper in Berlin and then went on to a national weekly. In the early 1990s, I wrote about the trials of Stasi officials and a village in Brandenburg where arsonists had burned down a refugee hostel. Later, I reported on German military deployments, from Belet Huen in Somalia to Kunduz in northeastern Afghanistan. I wandered silently through the blood-spattered cells of a Jesuit monastery in Kigali in July 1994 and witnessed the uncovering of mass graves on the green shores of Lake Kivu a year later. I interviewed former student leaders of the Tiananmen Square uprising who had found asylum in the U.S., as well as covered the first Yugoslav war crimes tribunals in The Hague and the final diplomatic negotiations for the International Criminal Court.

I marvel at this miracle of resilience, peace, and prosperity that has grown out of the ruins of two world wars.
But it was my think tank career that finally took me into Eastern Europe. Unforgettable: my first trip to Warsaw, which Hitler’s Third Reich (with help from the Soviets) had tried to erase from the face of the earth, lovingly rebuilt by patriotic Poles. Countless trips across the European Union later, and with many new friends, I’m profoundly aware of all we Europeans disagree about — and how weak that makes us look. Yet I marvel at this miracle of resilience, peace, and prosperity that has grown out of the ruins of two world wars, and which has been protected and nourished by NATO and the EU. When I finally returned to the United States, a quarter-century after leaving Boston, it appeared comfortably familiar; I was certain I knew my own country. On both counts, new and painful lessons were in store.

My parents are dead now. Yet I understand much more intimately today why they were so determined to shelter their children from harm. I have met war criminals and victims, traumatized soldiers and terrified civilians, unsung heroes and dedicated, honorable politicians. I’ve interviewed people who were later murdered. I too now have memories that are hard to talk about, but they are a part of who I have become. Some of my teachers, mentors, role models, and friends are no longer alive. I miss the light and warmth they shed around them, and on the path ahead.

My education turned out to be more thorough than I could ever have imagined back on that crisp November afternoon, staring at the grainy TV. But what have I learned?

War, peace, and memory. The fact that I am not the descendant of war criminals is pure luck. One of my grandfathers died in 1937. The other, an electrical engineer, was too old for service in World War II. My father was drafted at 16 in 1944, out of a Protestant boarding school that disapproved of the Nazis and saw little action before turning himself in to an American GI. He and his peers were left standing in the debris with a deep contempt for those who had lied to them and tried to send them to their deaths. Unlike many older Germans, my parents had nothing to hide and we children did not have to distrust or despise them. In fact, they — and most of our schoolteachers — were very clear about the enormity of German guilt.

Initially, of course, West Germans did not willingly embark on a national atonement for the crimes of the Third Reich; they were forced to do so by allied war crimes tribunals. It took another generation for my country to conduct its own trials, and to acknowledge just how many ordinary Germans had been complicit, whether it was by buying the business of the Cohns next door, ignoring their sudden disappearance, or acquiring their left-behind household possessions at startlingly low auction prices. It took 70 years after the beginning of World War II — and the work of a multitude of scholars, journalists, and citizens’ initiatives — to achieve a full accounting of our catastrophic 20th-century history.

In communist East Germany, in contrast, the state ordained an official historical doctrine according to which all the Nazis not killed in the war had miraculously stayed in the Western part of the divided country. This “amnesia,” as the author Ines Geipel (once a star GDR track runner and the daughter of a high Stasi official) has pointed out, worked both ways for the communist leadership: It let them “gag the populace about National Socialism, and constrained the returnees from exile in Moscow to remain mute about Stalinist terror … a secret pact that exonerated and served as a basis for coming purges.” She lists the price of this oblivion:

300,000 political prisoners, 75,000 imprisoned for attempting to flee, hundreds killed at the wall, 4.6 million who fled to the West between 1945 and 1990, more than four million deportees stranded in the East, 2 million subjected to forced collectivization of agriculture, 120,000 survivors of special NKVD [People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs] camps, tens of thousands deported to the Soviet Union, nearly half a million deprived of their childhoods in orphanages, and more.

Younger East German authors have written forcefully and movingly about the post-1989 consequences of this psychological and moral devastation. The journalist Daniel Schulz, born in Potsdam in 1979, reminds his readers that neo-Nazis who terrorized rural areas and defaced Jewish gravestones with swastikas existed even in the GDR. The Stasi made light of them as unpolitical “rowdies” or as “provocations from West Germany,” whereas they cracked down brutally on punks as emissaries of “Western decadence.” He describes his own immersion into a local skinhead tribe as part of a general unraveling of state and society: “Violence was normal and in this normalcy the Nazis swam like the fish in the sea.” Yet — with the exception of the xenophobic riots of Hoyerswerda and Rostock-Lichtenhagen in 1991 and 1992, which made international headlines — the rest of the country seemed to shrug off this explosion of lawlessness. (As a newspaper intern in Berlin, I was once sent to cover a neo-Nazi trial in Frankfurt an der Oder, close to the Polish border. The sullen insolence of the young thugs on the stand made a lasting impression. As did having to dive for safety after the trial, when neo-Nazi skinheads and Antifa went for each other with baseball bats outside the courthouse.)

This toxic historical groundwater is now helping the AfD garner alarming support, winning one-quarter or more of the vote in recent regional elections in eastern Germany. But while the hard-right party has been plateauing at around 10% in the western regions of Germany, that is also where its intellectual roots are oldest and strongest, as the historian Volker Weiß has documented. The AfD’s leadership is almost exclusively from the west, leading the writer Christian Bangel, a native of Frankfurt an der Oder, to warn: “It is hypocritical to treat the East as the hazardous waste deposit of woke Germany. And dangerous. Because the East is Germany’s great political innovator.” We westerners may have accounted for our 20th-century history of right-wing extremism, yet we manifestly struggle with its modern versions. We have no cause whatsoever to be smug.

Other lessons from history were arguably over-learned. Post-war West Germany was so deeply pacifist (its Basic Law of 1949 did not even provide for armed forces) that when it had to stand up 12 divisions (250,000 troops) to become a NATO member in 1955, there were riots. Today, Germany has soldiers stationed in the Baltics, in the Balkans, in Africa, on the Mediterranean, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, but it struggles to keep up with its defense spending commitments. As the German Marshall Fund’s Jan Techau observes: “Germany’s supply-side develops slower than the world’s demand side.”

But as I saw firsthand as a journalist in conflict zones, the deployment of military force can stop wars and war crimes. I am convinced that the Rwandan genocide could have been prevented — like much of the killing in the Balkans, or the current bloodshed in Syria — with earlier, decisive action. (And for what it’s worth, liberating Afghanistan from the Taliban and Libya from Moammar Gadhafi saved many thousands of innocent lives.) The officers and soldiers who took on new and unfamiliar roles in these operations, and often had to improvise on the basis of imperfect political guidance, deserve immense respect. Yet it continues to dismay how little policymakers truly know about the environments in which they intervene, how bad they are at explaining their actions to their publics, how ineffectual they are at implementing plans, and how little responsibility is taken for unintended consequences. And certainly the West’s record of creating peace is patchy at best.

 

There is no such thing as an easy war, or a simple victory

 


In this new era of great-power competition, a fractured West is focusing on deterrence again, as well as on national and alliance defense. “Out-of-area” operations have gone out of fashion. Yet we cannot escape the dilemmas of humanitarian intervention or post-conflict stabilization, although we may have to be more pragmatic about what kind of stability is achievable. Indeed, I believe there are necessary wars, and just wars. But there is no such thing as an easy war, or a simple victory.

Prosperity and inequality. The post-war transatlantic alliance began with food. In the first two years after World War II, harsh winters, hunger, and deprivation killed millions more people in Europe and the Soviet Union, one of my great-grandfathers among them. It was U.S. food aid, and then the Marshall Plan and American stewardship of a liberal international trading order that enabled the reconstruction and democratic revival of Europe — or rather of Western Europe, since Stalin’s Russia prohibited Eastern Bloc countries from accepting U.S. aid. The “Luftbrücke,” or air bridge, with which allied planes supplied food and coal to West Berliners during the 1948-49 Soviet blockade remains unforgotten in Germany’s capital. Ordinary Americans, too, sent hundreds of millions of CARE (Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe) food packages to recipients overseas until the early 1960s. Their arrival was a major event, including in my mother’s family. My 17-year-old POW dad was delighted by American canteen food. But having to be grateful also made people resentful, as my grandmother’s begging letters to overseas acquaintances from the late 1940s show. Yet over time, the roaring growth and deepening economic integration of the economies on both sides of the Atlantic became a pillar of the U.S.-European relationship. For all these reasons, the fact that the Trump administration is now slapping tariffs on its allies as much as on its adversaries — in effect weaponizing that interdependence — hits a particularly sensitive nerve.

After 1989, the economic corollary of the “victory of democracy” thesis was the theory of convergence: Market capitalism would inevitably establish itself not just in Europe but around the world. This, in turn, would help consolidate freedom and democracy globally. But 30 years later, that notion has been falsified in multiple ways, notwithstanding the fact that free-market therapies helped formerly communist economies modernize and grow, and lifted tens of millions out of poverty. China is becoming more totalitarian, not less, and its entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, contrary to predictions, did not turn it into a “responsible stakeholder” but into a ruthless abuser of the international trade system. Russia has turned into an authoritarian kleptocracy. Neoliberal prescriptions (the “Washington consensus”) led to the global financial crisis in 2008. In Europe, German fiscal orthodoxies helped turn it into a eurozone crisis.

Did this open the floodgates for the populists? In a new book, Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff argues that for France, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., the answer is yes, because globalization siphoned off jobs and entire industries from these economies, while enriching the wealthy at home. In Northern and Central Europe, in contrast — which still boast full employment, growth, and below-average inequality — populism is not about economics (in Germany, even AfD voters tell pollsters that they see their economic situation as good or excellent), but identity. Of which more shortly.

That said, the German story is complicated by the unequal legacy of unification. Months before the fall of the wall, the Stasi wrote a memorandum to explain to the geriatric leadership of the communist state why so many citizens were fleeing to the West: shortages of consumer goods and services, bad workplace conditions, travel restrictions, oppressive living conditions. In 1990, Chancellor Helmut Kohl promised the East Germans “blühende Landschaften,” flourishing landscapes, and the West Germans that none of this would cost them a pfennig.

Twenty years later, Germany’s former finance minister Peer Steinbrück estimated the cost of reunification at two trillion euros, “an average 100 billion euro” per year. The latest annual report compiled by the office of the Commissioner on German Unity records healthy growth rates, record unemployment, and salaries and pensions that have nearly reached west German levels. Environmental disaster zones have been cleaned up, historic cities and towns painstakingly restored. Yet it also points out that no major German company is headquartered in the east. The key reason for the structural lag between the western and eastern parts of the country, however, is the drastic dip in birth rates in the east immediately after 1990, and a net emigration of more than 1.2 million east Germans — often young, well-educated, and female — to the west.

The Treuhandanstalt — the agency created to privatize East Germany’s state-owned enterprises — has come under harsh criticism for closing allegedly profitable businesses; in truth, that was the case for only a handful of companies. As a rookie reporter covering hunger strikes in factories that had been summarily shuttered, I was shocked to encounter plants on the outskirts of Berlin and farther afield that looked like locations for movies set in the 1950s, or the 1850s. The despondent foremen who showed me around acknowledged as much.

What also became heartbreakingly clear in these conversations was that the inevitable economic transformation of eastern Germany was going to bring with it huge personal costs for millions of people whose skills, experience, and achievements were no longer valued. The communist caretaker state was gone. There was also no little amount of west German carpetbagging. While easterners were told they would have to retrain, or accept lower-skilled jobs, many of the new government, academic, and corporate jobs were taken by westerners. This included some of my law school classmates, and not those with the best grades. Meanwhile, easterners are underrepresented (with the notable exception of Chancellor Merkel, who grew up in Brandenburg) among Germany’s elites to this day.

On the evening of March 18, 1990, after the last elections to the East German legislature, the West German Social Democratic parliamentarian Otto Schily was interviewed on national TV and asked to comment on the electoral victory for Helmut Kohl’s Christian Democrats. When he silently drew a banana from his pocket, viewers immediately recognized the insulting implication: The East Germans had voted for fresh produce and consumer goods (rather than for, say, democracy and free speech). The arrogance and disrespect of that gesture resonates to this day. We West Germans — and certainly Schily, who was 12 when Nazi Germany capitulated to the Allies — ought to know all about the connection between hunger, freedom, and dignity.

Democracy and transformation. When I chose in the late 1980s to study direct democracy in the United States, it seemed in keeping with the hopeful spirit of the times: Maybe, just maybe, we Germans could begin to trust ourselves as much as other mature democracies did? But the closer I looked, the clearer it became that the widespread usage of the referendum and initiative at the state and local level had actually undermined and damaged governance in America, regularly disenfranchising weaker, more defenseless groups. Harvard’s Judith Shklar accepted me as a reading and research student and tolerated my topic (with a raised eyebrow) while insisting firmly on the historic civilizational achievement that is liberal democracy as set out by the Framers: representative, limited government, checks and balances, and the protection of minorities against the tyranny of the majority. A blessing whose value she knew only too personally as a Jewish refugee from wartime Riga, first in Canada and then in America. She made me realize just how carefully calibrated is the constitutional architecture drawn up (with American help) in Germany’s Basic Law of 1949.

It has been all the more disturbing to see the rise of illiberal authoritarianism around the world and across Europe. The organization Freedom House has been charting a decline of liberties worldwide since 2005, while the Pew Research Center has been recording an increasing dissatisfaction with democracy. This is true not just for China and Russia, or the post-Arab Spring Middle East, but for Western democracies, which we thought could never fall back behind the achievements of 1989: new democracies like Hungary and Poland, and even old, deeply rooted democracies like the United Kingdom and the United States. And for Germany, which we naively assumed in 1989 would never revert to authoritarian ideas because we had done such a perfect accounting of our sins and built so many safeguards into our system.

It’s been difficult to watch an American president and a British prime minister lathering up crowds of supporters by denigrating the pillars of representative democracy (Congress or the Parliament, the courts, the civil service), trashing its mediating institutions (academia, the press), and slandering the law and the truth — all in the name of “popular will,” and cheered on by Vladimir Putin. The crucial role played by Polish and Hungarian activists in tipping over the domino chain of democratic revolution in 1989, and the debt we Germans owe them, makes the paranoid intransigence of Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of Poland’s ruling right-wing Law and Justice party and the nasty ethno-chauvinism of Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbàn particularly hard to bear. (Merkel protected the latter against European censure for years.) Kaczyński and Orbàn are dismantling liberal democracy, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Trump appear to be hellbent on exhausting it. The method may be different, but the outcome risks being quite similar.

And Germany? Where a stunning 58% of respondents told pollsters in a recent survey undertaken in Berlin and in the five eastern states that they were no better protected against arbitrary government than before 1989? Where more than a quarter of the voters in three recent eastern regional elections voted for the AfD, which has been visibly and rapidly radicalizing in recent months, and whose leaders have marched at the side of neo-Nazis in violent demonstrations? Where a senior regional politician who had expressed his support for Merkel’s policy of welcoming refugees in the crisis year of 2015 was shot at point-blank range by a known right-wing extremist in Kassel, a western German city notorious for its hard-right scene? And where, on October 9 — the 30th anniversary of the day on which 70,000 people marched through Leipzig with candles in their hands, signaling the beginning of the end for the communist system — a lone gunman tried to shoot up Yom Kippur celebrants in a synagogue in Halle an der Saale, killing two and wounding another?

Has Germany’s contrition, or the democratic transformation of Europe that began in 1989, been no more than a thin veneer that is now beginning to crack? Might Vladimir Putin be right when he argues that liberal democracy has run its course?

Again, the problem is probably more accurately located in our own misguided expectations or our hubris. In America and the U.K., perhaps too much faith has been placed in the ability of old or unwritten constitutions to hold together a polity divided by rising inequality and a deliberate or negligent dismantling of the state as a provider of public goods. In much (but not all) of Central and Eastern Europe, in contrast, zealous Western reformers misunderstood as democratic revolutions what were in reality national emancipation movements. And it seems only too likely that West Germans greatly overestimated the joy their eastern brothers and sisters would feel upon a reunification based on what the writer Jana Hensel has called “das egalitäre Versprechen,” the egalitarian promise: You’ll all become like us. Ouch.

So at least some of the protest against liberal democracy is the anger of those who feel unheard, culturally marginalized, disrespected. It is a displacement emotion — like the anger directed against migrants in regions where there are few or no migrants, but very high emigration rates that engender a fear of permanent exclusion in those who are left behind — but it is no less real. Understanding this could be a first step to empathy and building bridges across the divides.

And yet I have to take issue with those who say that illiberalism is no more than a reflexive response to liberal hubris, or that Europe should stop being a democratic missionary and lead purely through the power of example, becoming a walled Kantian garden, or a “monastery.”

Liberal democracy is not a system of governance like any other, but (as Judith Shklar wrote in her seminal essay “The Liberalism of Fear”) the only system that restrains state violence against the individual. It needs to be defended against its very real enemies, who misdirect and exploit the anger of the disrespected for their own gains. As for the prescription that Europe ought to preserve the purity of its liberal democracy at home but abstain from advocating it abroad, it is entirely at odds with the reality of Europe’s fluid and vulnerable situation within the modern paradigm of great-power rivalry. Challengers and adversaries like Russia and China have established themselves as assertive players within the European continent. Europe, for its part, is existentially dependent on its openness to the global movement of ideas, data, goods, and people; but liberal democracy is its greatest comparative advantage. The Europeans may have to learn to protect this treasure without either the United States or United Kingdom at their side.

Freedom and identity. The ultimate lesson of 1989, then, is this: History was never linear or inevitable. It was then and is now the product of decisions, of choices, of freedoms, of responsibility taken. To quote Thomas Bagger on Germany again: “The history of unification represents hope even under the most adverse circumstances … We should not expect the inevitability of a better future, but should never discard its possibility — including the emancipation of those who today suffer the consequences of authoritarian rule.”


The Europe we have could use some work — but it is still the best the continent has ever seen.


In fact, predictions of the imminent demise of liberal democracy would appear to have been somewhat premature. The protests in Russian cities and in Hong Kong speak powerfully to the universality of the human desire for self-determination. In Austria, Italy, and Slovakia, or the cities of Istanbul, Warsaw, and Budapest, populists have been thrown out or kept at bay. The Europe we have could use some work — but it is still the best the continent has ever seen.

And notwithstanding the prophets of nativism who would separate and segregate us into strictly homogeneous tribes, most of us live comfortably in our multiple identities: the local, the regional, the national, the European, and the Western. Two generations ago, my clan was lily-white and firmly Protestant. Now, my extended family encompasses relatives of Swiss, Slovene, Ghanaian, American, and Taiwanese origin; it includes Jews, atheists — and even Catholics. I myself, for all my wandering, was baptized in a four-century-old church in Ober-Wegfurth, a village in the farmland of the Fulda Gap, the same chapel where my parents were married and in whose graveyard my ancestors have been buried for the last 400 years. But even more importantly, I once made a decision to cleave to my country, and all its baggage.

My generation, “the 1989ers,” whose trajectory into real life was re-shaped so profoundly 30 years ago, now finds itself at the cusp of its own historical arc, and before its own choices. We are still grappling with the lessons of the past as huge new transformations loom ahead. But history will not wait for us.

The Europe we were given in 1989 is now ours to lose, or to keep.


About the Author

Constanze Stelzenmüller is a senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. She also holds the Henry Kissinger chair at the Library of Congress. She is an expert on German, European, and trans-Atlantic foreign and security policy and strategy. Prior to working at Brookings, she was a senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF).

 

By Zach Vertin, Visiting Fellow - Brookings Doha Center Nonresident Fellow - Foreign Policy, 03 November 2019

The Red Sea has fast become the subject of new geopolitical intrigue, as unprecedented engagement between Gulf states and the Horn of Africa reframes politics, economics, and security astride one of the world’s most heavily trafficked waterways. Friends and foes have converged in this increasingly crowded neighborhood as the Red Sea and its environs are infused with greater strategic import. Opportunities and risks abound, and as in any emerging frontier, the rules of the game are yet to be written.

The flurry of new activity raises the prospect of political cooperation and economic integration across the emerging Red Sea arena. But as regional rivals vie for access and influence, a narrative of contest has so far prevailed. No clear hegemon exists, and the competition among aspirants is characterized by projections of influence across ever-greater swathes of land and sea. For those inside and outside the region, freedom of navigation is at stake, as is the protection of maritime trade and control of a major strategic choke-point at the southern gate of the Red Sea—the Bab al Mandab. Geo-economics also inform these new dynamics, as do ideology, political transitions, and energy and infrastructure development. The war in Yemen has also shaped strategic calculations, as has confrontation between Iran and its adversaries in the adjacent sea lanes. Viewed with a wider lens, the nexus of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden also represents the western flank of an emerging theater of competition among global powers: the Indian Ocean.

Fortunately, governments on both shores are now debating a so-called “Red Sea forum”—a collective through which concerned states might come together to discuss shared interests, identify emergent threats, and fashion common solutions. Over the last year, a series of initiatives have been undertaken toward creation of such a governance arrangement, with varying approaches and varying degrees of success. Competing visions have precipitated both collaboration and tension, as regional states feel each other out, testing different ideas about the ideal design for a forum, its membership, and its objectives.

The littoral states of the Red Sea anchor the conversation, though critical neighboring countries are beginning to engage as well. Europe has expressed interest in supporting such a forum, while China has established an economic and military presence at the mouth of the Red Sea. The United States, meanwhile, is seen as increasingly absent from the region, its decades-old regional security umbrella no longer assured. Perceptions of American withdrawal have opened new, albeit unstable, space, empowering some regional actors while leaving others confused.

This paper surveys the changing Red Sea context and then offers the rationale for a trans-regional governance framework. It sheds light on various initiatives undertaken to date, including the challenges confronted and the risks of co-option. It offers design elements for Red Sea architects to consider and identifies other multilateral fora that might serve as useful templates. Finally, it offers perspectives from littoral states, their immediate neighbors, and the wider group of interested global actors.

Underpinning this paper is a belief that Gulf and African states, as well as external partners, would benefit from the establishment of a Red Sea governance framework. At its best, these stakeholders could together confront issues such as trade and infrastructure development, maritime security, mixed migration, labor relations, environmental protection, and conflict management. At a minimum, such an architecture could raise the costs of destabilizing activity by any individual member state, while providing African countries with a platform to engage Gulf countries on a more equal—and less transactional—basis. In practice, a regular forum might also force broader and more robust engagement between Gulf and Horn governments, as knowledge of politics, society, and bureaucratic systems is weaker than the sentimental narratives of shared history sometimes suggest.

Littoral states and other interested stakeholders may soon have to render judgment on the nascent initiatives—including whether to participate in (or lend their support to) a proposed forum, how to maximize its value, and how to harmonize potentially competing initiatives. Absent clarity of purpose and sufficiently inclusive membership, each may fizzle out.

As states with different cultures, models of government, and styles of diplomacy attempt to shape a new multilateral collective, obstacles abound. But the potential dividends of integration, development, and conflict prevention merit the effort. A Red Sea forum will not deliver shared prosperity or cure all ills, but it can offer this diverse set of actors a venue to shape the emergent trans-regional order, maximizing opportunity and minimizing risk, in what might otherwise become a dangerously chaotic arena.

 

 

Africa

HARARE - Man-made starvation is "slowly making its way into Zimbabwe" and most households in the country are unable to obtain enough food to meet their basic needs, Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, declared on Thursday.

The independent UN human rights expert was presenting her assessment on the current situation in Zimbabwe, concerning all aspects related to the right to food, following a 11-day visit to the country.

Because of hyperinflation, which, said Ms. Elver, has reached some 490 per cent, more than 60 per cent of the population is now "food-insecure", in a country once seen as the breadbasket of Africa: "In rural areas, a staggering 5.5 million people are currently facing food insecurity, as poor rains and erratic weather patterns are impacting harvests and livelihoods", she said. "In urban areas, an estimated 2.2 million people are food-insecure and lack access to minimum public services, including health and safe water".

Ms. Elver described the figures as "shocking", and warned that, due to factors such as poverty and high unemployment, widespread corruption, severe price instabilities, and unilateral economic sanctions, the crisis is getting worse.


Women and children 'bearing the brunt'


Women and children are bearing the brunt of the crisis, said the Special Rapporteur, adding that the majority of children she had met were stunted and underweight. According to Ms. Elver, child deaths from severe malnutrition have been rising in recent months, and 90 % of Zimbabwean children aged six months to two years are not consuming the minimum acceptable diet: "I saw the ravaging effects of malnutrition on infants deprived of breast feeding because of their own mothers' lack of access to adequate food".

The situation for women, as described by the human rights expert, is equally stark, with women (and children) increasingly forced to drop out of school, being forced into early marriage, domestic violence, prostitution, and sexual exploitation.


Urgent reform is needed


Immediate reforms of the agricultural and food system were recommended by Ms. Elver, such as reducing the country's dependence on imported food, and supporting alternative wheats to diversify the diet. The Government, she continued, should create the conditions for the production of traditional seeds to ensure the country's self-sufficiency and preparedness for the climate shocks that hit the country.

The effects of the economic crisis are noticeable, said the Special Rapporteur, in both rural areas, and cities, including Harare. She recounted seeing people waiting for hours, in long lines, in front of gas stations, banks, and water dispensaries, and receiving information that public hospitals have been reaching out to humanitarian organizations after their own medicine and food stocks were exhausted.

Ms. Elver called on the Zimbabwean Government, political parties, and the international community to come together to "put an end to this spiralling crisis before it morphs into a full-blown conflict".

AB/

KHARTOUM - As of today, al-Bashir is still in prison and facing charges of corruption. He previously admitted in court to having received $90 million in cash from the Saudi Royal family.

The new Sudanese government has signed a law dissolving the National Congress Party (NCP) of former President Omar al-Bashir and confiscating the party's funds, the country's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced on Thursday.

On his Twitter page, Hamdok said that the dissolvement of the NCP is "not an act of revenge" but rather aims to preserve the dignity of Sudanese citizens "tired of the NCP's injustice". He added that the law also sought to "retrieve the stolen wealth" of the Sudanese people.

Additionally, Sudan's Sovereign Council has scrapped the public order act previously adopted by the former government, which regulated women's dress and behaviour in accordance with Islamic principles, Reuters reported earlier in the day.

Al-Bashir's NCP had been Sudan's ruling party since 1989, before anti-government protests erupted in Sudan in December 2018. In April 2019, a military coup ousted al-Bashir and the Transitional Military Council (TMC) came to power.

However, the demonstrations continued with opposition protesters calling on the TMC to transfer power to a civilian-led government.

The TMC and the opposition subsequently concluded a power-sharing agreement, establishing the Sovereign Council.

In August, Hamdok was sworn in as Sudan's prime minister.

AB/

THE UNITED NATIONS - With Somalia scheduled to hold “one-person, one-vote” elections next year, leaders must act now to break the “stalemate” between the central government and federal member states, the top UN official in the country told the Security Council on Thursday.

The election will mark just the third time that Somalia has had universal suffrage since independence in 1960.  

UN Special Representative James Swan underscored the need to forge political consensus to realize what he described as the “ambitious agenda for 2020”.

“This will entail dialogue and compromise between the central government and Federal Member States; between the executive and legislature; between current office-holders and those now out of power; and between elite leaders and those community elders, civil society organizations, women’s and youth groups who give voice to so many Somalis”, he said.

“After more than a year without effective cooperation between the Central Government and key Federal Member States, this situation has become an obstacle to achieving important national priorities. Somalia’s leaders must act urgently to break this stalemate between the Center and the Federal Member States in the interest of the nation.”


Critical next steps


Mr. Swan,  head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), further highlighted the need for Parliament to pass the electoral code and adopt amendments to the political parties’ law before the end of this year.

“Any delay in this timeline puts the 2020 electoral calendar at risk,” he warned.

UN partner the African Union (AU) praised “commendable steps” towards reconciliation, including a meeting between Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo and two of his predecessors held in the capital, Mogadishu, on Wednesday.

Francisco Caetano José Madeira, head of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), acknowledged that while critical next steps towards the election are needed, there has been progress in reviewing the electoral bill over the past three months.

“We also witnessed the recent positive steps in the appointment of the National Electoral Security Task Force, the development of the draft concept note on the security for voter registration, and the provisionally approved list of voter registration sites,” said Mr. Caetano, who also is the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for the country.


‘Pivotal’ year ahead for Somalia and partners


Somalia last held one-person, one-vote elections in March 1969.  That October, the government was overthrown in a bloodless military coup.

Parliamentary and presidential elections took place in late 2016 and early 2017 through a system of indirect suffrage.

Halima Ismail Ibrahim, chair of the National Independent Electoral Commission, said this clan-based power-sharing model was a temporary measure to support preparations towards one-person, one-vote.

“The process was compromised by extensive vote buying.  There was a lot of corruption in that process, limited participation of women in the two houses, and complete exclusion of marginalized and minority groups,” she told ambassadors.

Despite ongoing insecurity, fragile institutions and other challenges, the 2020 election will be a “massive improvement” over the previous system, according to Osman Moallirn, Executive Director of Somalia Youth Development Network.

“A proportional representation system of this time, even if limited by the many challenges, will open up the political space and overcome many vested and corrupt interests in the status quo”, he said.

The forthcoming election is expected to cost $53 million, according to Ms. Ibrahim, the electoral commission chair.

She described 2020 as “a pivotal year” for Somalis, who have been denied the right to political participation for five decades.

She added that it also will mark a milestone for the international community, which has worked to promote democracy and good governance in her country.

“However, this is a milestone which can only be realized when the Somali leaders and the international community show a commitment to one-person, one-vote election to take place in 2020-21”, Ms. Ibrahim stated.

AB/

THE UNITED NATIONS - The situation in Africa’s Sahel region continues to be “of serious concern and urgent action is needed”, a high-level United Nations official told the Security Council on Wednesday, attributing a rising number of attacks to terrorist armed groups.

Over the past six months, security in many parts of the vast area that runs west to east across the continent from Senegal to Sudan, “has continued to deteriorate”, said Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, noting a surge in militancy against security forces and civilians and of “violent incidents pitting members of various communities against one another”.

Drawing attention to a death toll that continues to mount, she stated that in 2019 the number of security incidences had risen three-fold in the region, as compared to previous years, specifically in Burkina Faso and Niger.

And over the past six months, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger had endured some of the deadliest attacks against their militaries – with some major incidents occurring just this month.  

Moreover, terrorist violence has spread to the coast and along the Sahel-Sahara strip, which brings together the operational zones of the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (FC-G5S) and the multi-national force in the Lake Chad Basin.

The encouraged the G5 Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to “overcome the many challenges they face in operationalizing the Joint Force”.

The FC-G5S was established in 2017 to combat terrorist and criminal groups.

The UN official maintained that the Joint Force remains “a critical part” of regional and international security responses to address not only extremist armed groups in the Sahel but also other cross-border challenges, including human trafficking, migration and displacement.


Securing the Sahel


At the same time, Ms. Keita echoed the Secretary-General’s most recent report in pointing out current support for FC-G5S, is not enough.

“The Joint Force alone cannot secure the Sahel” she underscored. “More needs to be done to prevent further deterioration”.

She spoke of other international and regional initiatives to respond to the expanding threat of armed terrorists as “encouraging”, mentioning a new partnership by Germany and France to reinforce troops and police forces from the G5 Sahel countries at the national level.

And the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has also pledged one billion dollars to fight the scourge over the next five years.

“In parallel it will remain critical to continue supporting the efforts by the Joint Force of the G5 Sahel as well as to mobilize external partners to that end”, she concluded.

AB/

Francais

 

Que se passe-t-il ? En février, le gouvernement de la République centrafricaine a signé un accord avec les groupes armés qui contrôlent de larges portions du territoire, s’engageant à intégrer certains de leurs combattants dans de nouvelles unités de l’armée et à faire entrer leurs dirigeants au gouvernement. Cet accord bénéficie d’un large soutien international, mais la violence fait encore rage dans les provinces.

En quoi est-ce significatif ? Le gouvernement, l’Union africaine et les Nations unies ont beaucoup investi dans cet accord, qui a aussi le soutien des pays voisins. Si les responsables centrafricains y mettent du leur, il devrait être possible de mettre un terme à six années de violence généralisée.

Comment agir ? Le gouvernement devrait établir des critères clairs pour évaluer la conduite des groupes armés ; il devrait écarter du gouvernement les chefs de groupes qui ne les respectent pas. Le gouvernement et les acteurs internationaux devraient soutenir les initiatives de paix locales. Le Tchad et le Soudan devraient user de leur influence sur les groupes armés pour qu’ils cessent leurs abus.

 

Synthèse

 

Quatre mois après la signature d’un accord de paix, facilité par l’Union africaine, entre le gouvernement de la République centrafricaine (RCA) et quatorze groupes armés, sa mise en œuvre reste incomplète. Les unités mixtes prévues par l’accord, qui seraient composées de combattants des groupes armés et des forces armées nationales, pourraient contribuer à accélérer la démobilisation, mais leur mise en place s’avère difficile. Le nouveau gouvernement, qui a accordé aux représentants des groupes armés des postes importants au niveau national et local, est loin de faire l’unanimité auprès d’une population qui souhaite avant tout voir les niveaux de violence et de prédation diminuer. S’il semble nécessaire de faire des compromis avec des groupes puissants, le gouvernement et ses alliés internationaux devraient établir des critères de conduite clairs conditionnant l’accès de leurs représentants à des postes gouvernementaux. Le gouvernement et ses alliés devraient aussi soutenir les initiatives de paix locales, qui ont permis dans certains cas de négocier des trêves, de résoudre des litiges et de réduire la violence dans les provinces où les groupes armés sont actifs. Les acteurs internationaux devraient maintenir la pression sur les voisins de la RCA pour qu’ils poussent ces groupes à cesser les abus.

L’accord, négocié à Khartoum et signé à Bangui le 6 février, est au moins le sixième accord conclu avec les groupes armés depuis que certains d’entre eux se sont emparés de la capitale centrafricaine en 2013, provoquant une crise qui perdure encore aujourd’hui. Facilité par l’Union africaine, avec le concours des voisins de la RCA, cet accord est le fruit des efforts des hauts diplomates de l’organisation régionale pour ramener dans le giron de l’Union africaine (UA) une initiative parallèle de la Russie et du Soudan qui, à la mi-2018, a failli anéantir les efforts internationaux de médiation. Comme d’autres accords signés par le passé, il expose les principales causes du conflit, engage les parties à résoudre pacifiquement les différends et les groupes armés à désarmer. Cet accord comprend également deux autres dispositions notables. Premièrement, il prévoit la création d’unités spéciales mixtes de sécurité réunissant certains combattants issus de groupes armés et des formations de l’armée. Deuxièmement, le président de la RCA, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, s’y engage à former un « gouvernement inclusif », ce qui, pour les médiateurs de l’Union africaine et les groupes armés eux-mêmes, implique de faire une plus grande place à ces derniers au sein du gouvernement.

La mise en œuvre de ces dispositions s’est vite heurtée à plusieurs obstacles. Les unités mixtes de sécurité pourraient contribuer à la démobilisation des groupes armés, certains combattants intégrant l’armée et d’autres retournant à la vie civile. Mais les divergences d’interprétation concernant les structures de commandement de ces unités et la réticence des groupes armés à engager des combattants dans un désarmement pérenne ont entravé leur formation. L’idée d’un gouvernement inclusif s’est avérée particulièrement controversée. Le 3 mars, le nouveau Premier ministre du Président Touadéra a formé un cabinet accordant quelques postes, tous relativement mineurs, à des représentants des groupes armés. Les groupes s’y sont opposés et ont menacé de sortir de l’accord. Après une réunion d’urgence avec les chefs des groupes armés au siège de l’Union africaine à Addis-Abeba, le Premier ministre a nommé un nouveau gouvernement fin mars. Les groupes armés se sont vus confier de nombreux postes ministériels, ainsi qu’au sein des gouvernements locaux dans des zones sous leur contrôle. La réaction à Bangui a été vive : beaucoup ont considéré ces postes comme une concession inacceptable faite aux groupes armés.

A ce jour, cet accord a porté quelques fruits. Il a permis d’attirer à nouveau l’attention de la communauté internationale sur la RCA et d’unir les diplomates derrière un effort conjoint de médiation. La participation des pays voisins, et en particulier du Tchad, aux pourparlers et au comité établi pour suivre la mise en œuvre de l’accord, pourrait les pousser à persuader les groupes armés qui recrutent et s’approvisionnent chez eux à réduire les abus. Etant donné qu’il y a quelques années, ces groupes exigeaient des amnisties et menaçaient de marcher sur Bangui, le simple fait de les avoir réunis autour de la table des négociations est une avancée.

Il est néanmoins difficile de dire si cet accord a permis de réduire la violence. L’accalmie observée dans les combats de forte intensité au cours des mois qui ont suivi la signature de l’accord pourrait aussi bien s’expliquer par le début de la saison des pluies. La violence quotidienne n’a que très peu diminué dans les provinces. Le 21 mai, un des groupes signataires de l’accord a perpétré une attaque qui a tué des dizaines de civils dans le Nord-Ouest. En outre, s’il appelle au désarmement, cet accord n’amorce aucune piste pour couper court aux affrontements entre les groupes armés, qui sont plus fréquents que ceux entre ces groupes et les forces armées régulières ou les Casques bleus de l’ONU. De fait, de nombreux détails restent encore à définir. Par conséquent, nombreux sont ceux, à Bangui, qui considèrent que l’accord a eu jusqu’à présent pour effet principal de récompenser de dangereux miliciens avec des postes gouvernementaux, sans apparente contrepartie.

Bien que des compromis avec les groupes armés les plus puissants soient nécessaires, le gouvernement et l’Union africaine devraient au moins exiger que ceux-ci honorent leurs engagements en échange du pouvoir qui leur a été concédé au sein du gouvernement. Le risque, énoncé par certains responsables de l’Union africaine, qu’une telle approche pousse les groupes armés à sortir de l’accord et déclenche une flambée de violence, semble surestimé. Les principaux groupes armés sont moins motivés par les postes gouvernementaux que par leur emprise territoriale. Les risques peuvent également être atténués par une approche qui verrait le gouvernement et ses partenaires internationaux compléter le dialogue mené à l’échelle nationale par des initiatives de paix au niveau local.

Les mesures suivantes pourraient contribuer à ce que l’accord mène à une amélioration de la situation sur le terrain :

Le gouvernement, de concert avec les garants de l’accord et les Nations unies, et, si possible, avec le consentement des groupes armés, devrait chercher à établir des critères que ces groupes devraient respecter pour garder leurs postes au gouvernement. Si aucun consensus n’est possible, le gouvernement et les acteurs internationaux devraient imposer leurs propres critères, sur la base des dispositions de l’accord, en les détaillant davantage et en fixant un calendrier précis. Dans un premier temps, ces critères pourraient inclure la réduction de la violence des groupes armés, la possibilité pour les représentants de l’Etat de se déployer dans les provinces et la liberté pour les organisations humanitaires de travailler sans entrave. Par la suite, ces critères devraient également comprendre des mesures de démobilisation, y compris à travers la participation à des unités mixtes de sécurité. Il importe de signaler que ces critères intègreraient également le principe de réciprocité dans les négociations.

Là où leur présence inégale sur le terrain le permet, le gouvernement et ses partenaires internationaux devraient soutenir les comités de paix locaux qui ont, dans certaines provinces, été en mesure de négocier des trêves et de résoudre des différends entre les groupes armés. Les comités préfectoraux établis par l’accord pour mettre en œuvre ses dispositions à l’échelle locale devraient s’appuyer sur ces efforts.

Le gouvernement devrait renforcer sa communication publique, non seulement au sujet de l’accord de février, mais également sur son approche plus globale des négociations. Il devrait expliquer à une population sceptique qu’il est nécessaire de faire quelques concessions aux groupes armées, mais que ces concessions sont indissociables de l’engagement des groupes armés à réduire la violence et à prendre des mesures vers le désarmement.

S’appuyant sur les récentes visites de travail conjointes à Bangui, l’UA, ainsi que les deux autres principaux partenaires du pays, l’UE et l’ONU, devraient maintenir la pression sur les pays voisins pour qu’ils reprennent les combattants étrangers après le désarmement en RCA, et pour qu’ils fassent usage de leur influence sur les groupes armés pour les persuader de réduire la violence, de permettre à l’Etat de revenir dans les zones sous leur contrôle et finalement de démobiliser. L’UA et l’ONU devraient, en particulier, chercher à ranimer les canaux diplomatiques bilatéraux entre la RCA et chacun de ses voisins, en particulier le Tchad et le Soudan. La Russie, qui joue un rôle de plus en plus important en RCA, devrait apporter son soutien aux efforts de démobilisation des groupes armés et maintenir la pression sur les pays voisins de la RCA avec lesquels elle entretient des relations étroites.

International Crisis Group, Nairobi/Bruxelles, 18 juin 2019

 

Réussite digitale du Maroc et  diplomatie digitale: un binome gagnant.(Pourquoi et comment?)

 

Par Noureddine Sefiani           

 

Le résumé exécutif de la présente recherche et des  propostions pratiques qu’elle contient est synthétisé   dans les 2tableaux  suivants:

  • Le premier contient un ensemble de propositions pratiques pourla réussite digitale.
  • Le second détaille le processus de mise en oeuvre des dites mesures

 

                     Les 5 piliers et les 15 commandements

                     pour une diplomatie digitale efficace:

 

                             1erPilier et ses 3 recommendations

 

 

 

2eme Pilier et see 3 recommendations

 

 

 

 

 

3emePilier et ses 3 recommendations

 

 

 

 

 

4eme Pilliers et see recommendations

 

 

 

 

 

 

5eme Pilliers et see recommendations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La présente recherche a pour objectif d’expliquer pourquoi la réussite de la politique digitale du Maroc en interne est conditionnée par la réussite de sa diplomatie digitale en externe. En fait la réussite dans ce secteur est conditionnée par tellement de facteurs externes nécessitant une intervention ciblée et une stratégie spécifique dont l’un des piliers consiste en un renforcement du role et des moyens mis à la disposition du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères. L’autre volet de cette étude consiste à présenter un certain nombre de propositions pratiques d’action diplomatique qui pourraient contribuer à la réussite du plan digital du Maroc. Pourquoi? 1)Le digital est devenu un enjeu énorme dans les relations internationales du fait qu’il remet en cause l’un des fondements de base des relations interétatiques à savoir la souveraineté des États. Cette remise en cause concerne les domaines économique et technologique mais touche également les plans sécuritaire et culturel. Sur le plan économique, il y a lieu de rappeler quelques chiffres qui démontrent l’importance des principales compagnies du web par rapport à un grand nombre de pays. C’est ainsi qu’en 2016 leurs chiffres d’affaires en milliards de dollars américains étaient les suivants:


Apple: $ 216; Amazon: $ 136; Google : $ 90; Microsoft: $ 85 Par contre le Produit Interieur Brut du Maroc en 2016 a été de $ 103.6 milliards (Banque Mondiale, 2017) Par ailleurs toutes ces compagnies sont présentes dans tous les pays. Elles sont pratiquement présentes dans chaque foyer. A titre de comparaison le Maroc ne dispose de représentations diplomatiques que dans 96 pays sur un total de 192 États-membres des Nations-Unies.D’un autre coté Facebook compte 2.2 milliards d’utilisateurs actifs par mois, Whatsapp 1 milliard d’utilisateurs par jour et Gmail dispose également d’un milliard d’utilisateurs actifs (Joshua A. Geltzer, 2018) .

En comparaison aucun ministère des affaires étrangères même des pays les plus puissants ne peut se targuer d’avoir une telle audience et par voie de conséquence une telle influence. Enfin ces multinationales grâce à l’utilisation de ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler l’optimisation fiscale arrivent à échapper au fisc de la plupart des pays et ne paient pratiquement des impôts qu’aux Etats-Unis malgré qu’elles brassent des chiffres d’affaires importants dans chacun d’entre eux.

Tout ceci a amené les pays européens à réagir et à essayer de trouver des solutions juridiques pour pouvoir taxer ces compagnies et rétablir ainsi leur souveraineté fiscale pour des activités économiques qui se déroulent sur leur territoire. La réalité internationale de ces multinationales est là et surtout leur puissance financière, de négociations, et de marge de manœuvre au niveau mondial font que le Maroc en général et sa diplomatie économique en particulier doivent non seulement tenir compte de cette réalité mais aussi disposer d’une ligne de conduite claire à leur égard pour pouvoir d’une part les attirer à venir s’installer au Maroc notamment par des mesures d’encouragement sans avoir à payer le prix fort au niveau de la souveraineté, de la sécurité ou du dumping fiscal. Une telle approche s’impose d’autant plus que les géants du Net gèrent un secteur sensible et à haute valeur ajoutée en matière de savoir constituant par là un important enjeu technologique. Par ailleurs et à l’instar de ce que fait l’Australie le digital peut favoriser grandement le développement du commerce extérieur notamment dans sa partie exportations.


L’enjeu technologique est clair et le Maroc a un choix à faire: soit rester consommateur des nouvelles technologies et à supposer qu’il soit autorisé à les acquérir quand il s’agit de technologies de pointe soit devenir producteur même partiellement des dites technologies et devenir une partie prenante, même à une échelle réduite sur le plan international de l’économie du savoir et de l’innovation avec toutes les implications économiques, sociales et en matière de relations internationales que cela entraine. Il y a donc là un problème de dépendance technologique et de disposition des nouveaux instruments et moyens du développement économique et de son accélération qui se pose. La solution passe par la création d’un éco-systeme de technologie numérique au Maroc pour acquérir le savoir nécessaire ce qui requiert une coopération aussi bien avec les géants de l’internet qu’avec les start-up ainsi qu’avec le secteur privé marocain et les universités.

Le ministère des affaires étrangères dans le cadre de sa diplomatie économique en général et digitale en particulier se doit d’accompagner l’action qui sera entreprise en la matière aussi bien par la veille, les contacts notamment avec les start-up localisées à l’étranger en particulier celles dont les détenteurs sont de nationalité ou d’origine marocaine.
La dépendance technologique touche également la sécurité du pays. En effet chaque fois qu’une acquisition de technologie digitale est faite à l’étranger et indépendamment du pays vendeur celle-ci est parfois munie d’une application sous forme de cheval de troie qui permet au pays vendeur de faire la surveillance des activités menées par le pays acheteur grâce à la technologie acquise.

De par la législation existante la sécurité des systèmes d’information au Maroc est du ressort de l’Administration de la défense nationale; toutefois il serait peut-être souhaitable de créer une cellule chargée de la sécurité digitale comme c’est le cas dans certains pays comme les Etats-Unis, au sein du futur Conseil Supérieur de Sécurité (Sefiani, Le Conseil Supérieur de Sécurité du Maroc: Quels enjeux stratégiques, 2012) et dont la création est annoncée par la presse comme prochaine (Media 24, 2018).

Cette cellule pourrait être composée de représentants de tous les secteurs sécuritaires au Maroc qui gèrent le digital, en plus du Ministère des affaires étrangères du département de l’industrie, de l’Agence de Développement du Digital mais aussi du secteur privé et des universities.


Sur le plan culturel la question qui se pose non seulement pour le Maroc mais pour la majeure partie des autres pays c’est de savoir si la diversité culturelle mondiale qui existe actuellement va continuer ou si les valeurs culturelles véhiculées par les géants du Net qui sont tous américains vont dominer le référentiel culturel de l’ensemble de la planète. Comment? Afin de relever les défis sus-mentionnés il y aurait lieu pour le Maroc de considérer que: • La réussite digitale comme une question politique prioritaire • Le digital comme une question primordiale de l’agenda diplomatique du pays • La réussite en matière de diplomatie digitale comme un impératif 2) Les raisons qui militent en faveur de la gestion des questions digitales comme une question politique prioritaire sont les suivantes: En effet loin d’être une simple modernisation des méthodes de travail et de communication des administrations marocaines notamment du Ministère des affaires étrangères, la question du digital doit être pilotée avant tout comme une question stratégique prioritaire nécessitant une attention et une volonté politiques pour pouvoir être mise en œuvre. Il est réconfortant de constater qu’au plus haut niveau de l’État cette volonté a déjà été exprimée à plusieurs reprises par Sa Majesté Le Roi et elle n’a besoin actuellement que d’être traduite par des actes au niveau gouvernemental. A cet égard il y a lieu de rappeler que dans son message adressé aux participants au forum national de la haute fonction publique le 27 février 2018 Le Souverain a clairement indiqué: “Il convient par conséquent de tendre vers une généralisation de l’administration électronique par la fourniture de services à distance et la facilitation pour les différents départements de l’accès commun aux informations”.

Ceci au plan interne; sur le plan international Sa Majesté Le Roi a également indiqué dans le discours adressé au sommet extraordinaire de l’Union Africaine sur la Zone de libre-échange continentale le 21 mars 2018 : “ L’Afrique est en passe de devenir un laboratoire du monde numérique. Le numérique est en train de changer le visage de notre continent…Aujourd’hui plus que jamais il s’avère nécessaire de connecter les marchés africains de manière pérenne. La Zone de Libre Echange Continentale Africaine est un instrument essentiel pour promouvoir ce nouveau paradigme de développement économique centré sur l’innovation, la diversification et l’échange solidaire”.


Il résulte de ce qui précède que l’appui politique est là. Il suffit de le traduire en moyens budgétaires et humains pour le concrétiser. Ceci passe par un renforcement et une implication accrue des Affaires Etrangères. L’objectif étant de permettre à ce département d’accorder une attention particulière à cette question prioritaire en y créant un niveau de décision adéquat. 3) Le digital est devenu une question clé de l’agenda diplomatique international. En effet le digital est discuté sous une multitude de formes et dans un grand nombre d’instances internationales. Il figure dans l’agenda international sous forme de gouvernance du Net, de gouvernance internationale du big data, d’éthique et de gouvernance de l’intelligence artificielle, de cybersecurité ,de fracture digitale…Ces points figurent à l’ordre du jour de plusieurs organisations internationales: l’Union Internationale des Telecommunications (U.I.T) l’Organisation des Nations-Unies (O.N.U) l’Organisation des Nations-Unies pour la Science et la Culture (U.N.E.S.C.O) l’Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (I.C.A.N.N) le World Economic Forum (W.E.F)…

Ceci étant et quel que soit le nom retenu ou l’organisation ou la question du digital est débattue le Maroc a un rôle important à jouer à cet égard. Pour ce faire le MAECI pourrait préparer des documents de travail ou des propositions qui contiennent les préoccupations des pays du Sud en général, et des pays africains en particulier sur les dites thématiques débattues dans les diverses organisations internationales sus-mentionnées. Tous ces thèmes sont relativement nouveaux pour les pays du Sud et les positions ne sont pas clairement arrêtées à ce sujet.

En prenant l’initiative de préparer des documents qui défendent les intérêts africains ou même ceux du Sud en général, si besoin est en coordination avec d’autres pays comme le Rwanda, le Maroc peut jouer un rôle de leader dans ce domaine à l’instar de ce qu’a fait notre pays lors des négociations de presque deux décennies qui ont été nécessaires pour élaborer la Convention Internationale sur le Droit de La Mer.
Enfin s’agissant du Digital comme question clé de l’agenda international il y a lieu de constater que la Cyber Diplomatie est d’ores et déja devenue un enjeu stratégique pour les Etats et les mesures qui seront adoptées maintenant ou leur absence impacteront le role ,la place et l’influence des Etats sur le plan international. De ce fait le Maroc se doit de jouer un role important sur cette question. A titre purement d’exemple le Maroc pourrait reprendre l’idée émise par David Gosset proposant la création d’une Agence Internationale de l’Intelligence Artificielle (A.I.I.A) comme institution spécialisée des Nations-Unies sur le modèle de l’A.I.E.A (Gosset, 2016). La création d’une telle institution se justifie pour plusieurs raisons : d’abord pour des raisons éthiques et pour éviter les dérapages éventuels dans l’utilisation de l’Intelligence Artificielle qui pourraient se révéler catastrophiques pour l’humanité et pour diminuer la fracture existante entre pays développés et pays du sud qui risque d’accentuer davantage les différences de développement existantes (Chatham House, 2018) . Le Maroc pourrait utilement rédiger un policy paper sur cette question et proposer la création de l’A.I.I.A , ensuite faire adopter cette idée par l’Union Africaine et éventuellement par d’autres organisations régionales auxquelles le Maroc appartient, avant d’entamer une campagne de sensibilisation au siège des Nations-Unies pour pouvoir obtenir le maximum de ralliements à cette idée et son adoption. 4) Afin de concrétiser l’impératif de mise en oeuvre d’une diplomatie digitale réussie il serait souhaitable que plusieurs autres mesures soient prises rapidement: • La désignation d’un haut responsable en charge de ce secteur • La digitalisation rapide du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères.

• La définition d’une ligne éditoriale et de normes de conduite. La désignation d’un haut responsable en charge d’impulser à l’international la stratégie digitale du Royaume devrait normalement etre la première décision à prendre. Pour ce faire il y a lieu de tenir compte des précédents crées par les pays étrangers en la matière et tenir compte également de certaines données spécifiques au cas marocain. Sur le plan international deux formules ont été retenues ; soit la formule danoise qui est celle du Tech-Ambassador c’est à dire un diplomate chargé de la technologie ou celle de l’Australie qui est celle du Cyber-Ambassador c’est à dire une personne chargée de l’ensemble des questions digitales y compris l’utilisation du digital pour faire davantage de commerce ainsi que de la cybersécurité.

Mais qu’il s’agisse du cas danois ou australien, ces deux pays possèdent déjà une infrastructure digitale très développée notamment au ministère des affaires étrangères, y compris une excellente infrastructure en matière de diplomatie publique par le digital; la désignation d’un ambassadeur chargé du numérique vise un objectif précis à savoir gérer au niveau international les nouveaux défis posés par le développement du Net.

Le cas du Maroc est différent. Le Ministère des Affaires Etrangères à l’instar des autres départements ministériels doit d’abord mettre en oeuvre sa propre digitalisation. Mais en plus il doit gérer à l’international les défis, les risques et les dangers auxquels doit faire face le Maroc du fait du digital.

L’exécution de cette mission d’envergure nécessite de mettre au point un plan de mise en œuvre interne des techniques de la diplomatie digitale. En même temps il y a lieu de gérer les questions liées à la diplomatie digitale mondiale en tant que question clé de l’agenda international et ce par le canal des structures existantes ou modifiées si besoin est. Pour toutes ces raisons le Maroc a le choix entre 2 formules: soit considérer que la digitalisation du pays, de son économie et de son administration est une question politique prioritaire qui touche à la souveraineté de l’État notamment dans son aspect numérique et nommer pour son exécution un Secrétaire d’état auprès du Ministre des Affaires Etrangères qui serait chargé de la diplomatie économique, digitale et culturelle.

La nomination d’un responsable à ce niveau non seulement permettrait de disposer de l’appui politique nécessaire pour mettre en œuvre les propositions de diplomatie digitale mais cette personne disposerait de ce fait du poids politique et administratif voulu pour assurer les contacts et la coordination avec les autres départements notamment ceux responsables de la sécurité pour pouvoir gérer à l’international les multiples et complexes problèmes et défis liés à l’acquisition, l’emploi et la gouvernance des technologies liées à l’internet.

Si cette formule n’est pas retenue, la mise en œuvre de la stratégie de diplomatie digitale pourrait être répartie entre deux personnes: d’une part le Secrétaire Général pourrait être chargé de la partie digitalisation en profondeur du Ministère des affaires étrangères tout en mettant à sa dispositions les moyens humains et budgétaires nécessaires pour ce faire; d’autre part le Maroc pourrait lui aussi nommer un ambassadeur chargé du digital mais qui aura la double tache d’être un Tech-Ambassador et à cet égard mener des contacts utiles à l’international et être l’interface nécessaire pour amener aussi bien les grands que les start-up du Net à venir au Maroc pour contribuer à la création de l’éco-systeme digital pour diminuer la dépendance technologique à l’égard de l’étranger et en même temps s’occuper au niveau multilatéral de toutes les questions liées à la gouvernance de l’internet. 5) En ce qui concerne la digitalisation du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères il y a lieu de tenir compte du fait qu’actuellement pratiquement tous les pays ont procédé à une digitalisation plus ou moins avancée de leurs services diplomatiques. Ils exercent de ce fait une partie plus ou moins grande de leur mission par le biais du digital.La tendance générale va dans le sens de la densification et de l’amélioration constante de cet usage.


Il en résulte que l’objectif le plus raisonnable pour le Maroc c’est de prendre le virage digital dès maintenant plutot que de le faire sous la contrainte et suite à la digitalisation de la diplomatie mondiale qui est inéluctable et qui va impacter dans les années à venir aussi bien le modus operandi des diplomates que de la diplomatie . Pour ce faire il serait souhaitable d’agir dans deux directions et se fixer comme objectif que le digital puisse devenir : ● Un moyen d’influence au service de la Diplomatie Marocaine. ● Une méthode de travail habituelle du Diplomate marocain. S’agissant du Digital comme Moyen d’influence au service de la Diplomatie marocaine;trois niveaux pourraient etre envisagés qui requièrent chacun une approche différenciée: -le ou les sites du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères. -les sites des postes diplomatiques et consulaires du Maroc -la présence individuelle des diplomates marocains sur la toile et dans les réseaux sociaux.

Les différents sites qui relèvent du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères doivent etre remaniés de fond en comble aussi bien en ce qui conerne leur design, le contenu de leurs publications , les messages véhicules , ainsi que dans leur système de veille et de réactivité. Une partie de leurs activités pourraient etre confiées à des spécialistes de la communication . Par contre la conception du message à véhiculer devrait etre du resort de diplomates chevronnés. Quant à la présence individuelle des diplomates marocains sur la toile et dans les réseaux sociaux elle nécessite de remplir d’autres exigences. En effet pour atteindre l’objectif du Digital comme méthode de travail du diplomate marocain deux séries de mesures pourraient etre adoptées: la mise à niveau et la formation continue du Personnel existant; revoir le mode de recrutement du nouveau personnel et des modalités de sa formation.Il y aurait lieu probablement de prévoir aussi le recrutement d’une équipe d’ingénieurs pour l’essentiel des informaticiens si possible disposant également d’une formation complémentaire en relations internationales ou en économie. Exiger des futures recrues du Ministère outre la connaissance des langues et des relations internationales d’avoir également une bonne base ,vérifiable,en connaissances informatiques et la pratique du Digital.Introduire dans le cursus de formation des nouveaux cadres dispensé par l’AMED (Academie Marocaine des Etudes Diplomatiques) un module complet sur la diplomatie digitale .


L’objectif recherché est que le Personnel diplomatique marocain et quelle que soit son grade ou sa responsabilité actuelle au service central ou à l’étranger doit pouvoir disposer de trois qualités fondamentales: face à la surabondance et l’instantanéité des informations disponibles, savoir extraire l’information utile pour le Maroc et la Diplomatie marocaine en particulier tout en ayant l’expertise nécessaire pour savoir éviter les fake news et la désinformation si présents dans la Toile.Enfin savoir analyser et utiliser efficacement l’information extraite. L’action digitale proposée en matière internationale devrait reposer sur un thème ou une narration(a “narrative” en anglais ) à caractère global ayant pour but de façonner l’image de marque d’un Maroc qui gagne et qui pourrait etre declinée en plusieurs sous-thèmes et ajustée pour chaque niveau ciblé et non répétitive d’un niveau à l’autre pour éviter la désaffection des visteurs qui auraient la curiosité de vouloir visiter plusieurs sites gérés par le Ministère des Affaires Etrangères .Le thème global qui pourrait etre retenu,;mais ce n’est là qu’une hypothèse initiale de travail est:Le Maroc pluriel dans un monde pluriel.Le “narrative “ du Maroc pluriel pouvant facilement inclure les sous-thèmes de civilisation multiculturelle, multiconfessionnelle etc…Il en est de meme d’un Monde pluriel reflété par la pluralité des partenariats et des échanges fructueux qu’entretient le Maroc un peu partout dans le monde.


Il y aurait lieu également d’envisager deux mesures d’accompagnement dans le cadre de la narration: La définition d’une ligne éditoriale . Celle-ci devrait metre en relief le Maroc en tant que champion de l’unité, de la solidarité et de la diversité. L’autre mesure d’accompagnement est la rédaction d’un guide pratique sur la diplomatie digitale. Ces deux mesures d’accompagnement devraient etre mises à la disposition de tous les diplomates pour leur servir de support dans leurs activités. En conclusion il y a lieu d’observer que ce qui est proposé ici c’est le renforcement du role et non pas la gestion exclusive du digital par les Affaires Etrangères. Par définition les autres départements doivent conserver leurs prérogatives en la matière. Toutefois la composante essentielement internationale de ce dossier, son caractère très sensible car susceptible d’affecter les relations bilatérales comme on l’a vu dans les relations sino-américaines dans l’affaire Huawei, et le fait que beaucoup de pays appréhendent cette question avant tout sous l’angle de la souveraineté et s’assignent comme objectif premier de la sauvegarder militent en faveur d’un renforcement du role et des moyens mis à la disposition des Affaires Etrangères . La réussite digitale du Maroc en interne est conditionnée par la réussite de sa diplomatie digitale en externe. La réussite de ce binome gagnant contribuera à la création d’un Maroc qui gagne que nous voulons tous. Rabat Le 12 juin 2019


NOTES

1- Pour la définition de ce concept voir :Noureddine Sefiani “ A la recherche de la Diplomatie Digitale: Propositions de définition” Etude publiée le 10 juin 2019 dans le site public utilisé par les universitaires www.academia.edu 2- Source Banque mondiale. 3- Joshua Geltzer et Dipayan Ghosh “Tech companies are ruining America’s image” in Foreign Policy Mai 2018.
4- Décret du 21 septembre 2011 portant création d’une Direction Générale des systèmes d’information au sein de l’Administration de la défense nationale. BO du 17 octobre 2011.
5- Noureddine Sefiani «Le Conseil Supérieur de Sécurité du Maroc: Quels enjeux stratégiques” Revue Attawassol No 18 Avril 2012 6- Etre diplomate marocain c’est quoi ? article publié dans Medias24 du 26 avril 2018 7- Discours lu par le Chef du Gouvernement Monsieur Saadeddine El Othmani.
8- « Artificial Intelligence and global geopolitics » Huffington Post 29 juin 2016.
9- Voir “Artificial Intelligence and International Affairs” Rapport de Chatham House de juin 2018.
10-A l’heure actuelle la diplomatie digitale est abordée sous forme de conférences et non pas en tant que cours plein et entier étalé sur toute l’année

 

 

 

By Noureddine Sefiani

 

La diplomatie digitale est devenue un moyen d’action et d’influence diplomatique important pour les Etats. Mais de quoi s’agit-il exactement?. En langue française on retrouve aussi bien l’expression diplomatie digitale que diplomatie numérique. Le Larousse a tranché cette question en précisant que l’adjectif digital est synonyme à numérique. Malgré cela le débat subsiste et parfois de façon passionnée (Duretz, 2014). Certains persistant à penser que l’adjectif numérique serait préférable à digital. L’auteur du présent article a porté son choix sur l’adjectif digital . Celui-ci est beaucoup plus utilisé sur la toile que son synonyme numérique , et donc offrant plus de probabilités de voir un texte ou un document apparaître sur un moteur de recherche.


Ceci étant les définitions de la diplomatie digitale ne manquent pas. La plus large est la suivante et elle a été émise par Digital Diplomacy Review dans sa page consacrée à la méthodologie et pourrait être traduite comme suit: “La diplomatie digitale au sens large est définie comme l’exercice de la diplomatie par chaque personne (y compris les diplomates et les leaders sans qu’ils en aient le monopole) ayant accès à internet, aux réseaux sociaux, aux plateformes, aux instruments, appareils et applications digitaux”. Celle-ci ressemble plutôt à un fourre-tout ou tout acteur qui se mêle de diplomatie même de loin, de façon épisodique, avec une influence nulle ou minime est considéré comme partie prenante à la diplomatie.


La définition la plus originale est la suivante proposée par Morgane Bravo dans son blog “Think tank Digital Diplomacy”: “La diplomatie digitale consiste à résoudre les problèmes de politique extérieure grâce à l’internet… C’est de la diplomatie conventionnelle sous d’autres formes. Elle consiste à écouter et dialoguer, à évaluer par de nouveaux et intéressants moyens. C’est un instrument du soft power pour un nouveau visage des relations internationales.”


La définition la plus restrictive de la diplomatie digitale est le fait de plusieurs auteurs. Un point commun les unit à savoir qu’ils considèrent tous que la Diplomatie digitale est une extension de la diplomatie publique. A titre d’exemple deux auteurs peuvent être cités, l’un anglophone Olubukola S. Adesina l’autre francophone Thomas Gomart* . Ces deux auteurs donnent pratiquement la même définition bien qu’en des termes et langues différents. Selon Thomas Gomart: ”La diplomatie numérique consiste en la continuation de la diplomatie publique par les nouveaux outils de l’information et de la communication. Elle permet donc de s’adresser autant à la population nationale qu’aux étrangers de manière simplifiée et rapide” (Bacher, 2014).

Le reproche qui pourrait être fait à cette approche est qu’elle se contente de constater l’élargissement du champ d’activité de la diplomatie publique sans faire état de nouvelles thématiques qui d’ores et déjà remplissent le calendrier des ministères des affaires étrangères du fait de la diplomatie digitale. A tel point d’ailleurs que certains pays ont procédé à la nomination de ce qu’on appelle les Tech-Ambassador et le premier à l’avoir fait a été le Danemark en janvier 2017. La mission de ces nouveaux diplomates est de négocier avec les entreprises géantes ainsi qu’avec les start-up à forte valeur technologique sur des projets de coopération (Gagnière, 2017). Par ailleurs l’agenda des ministères des Affaires étrangères de tous les pays s’est enrichi par de nouvelles questions importantes et sur lesquelles doit porter la négociation entre autres: la gouvernance du Net, la cyber-sécurité, la fracture numérique etc..


Ceci étant toute une panoplie d’expressions et de notions plus ou moins proches a fait florès simultanément avec l’apparition et l’évolution de la diplomatie digitale telle que e-diplomacy ou Techplomacy. Ces notions connexes peuvent être regroupées en deux catégories. Dans la première on peut inclure les expressions e-diplomacy et cyber diplomacy qui peuvent être considérées comme désignant le même contenu que la diplomatie digitale. Par contre les expressions suivantes désignent chacune un aspect spécifique de la diplomatie digitale : Techplomacy, Twiplomacy, Data diplomacy, Algorithmic diplomacy, Hashtag diplomacy et Smart diplomacy.


La notion de Techplomacy a été employée par la diplomatie danoise à l’occasion de la nomination d’un Ambassadeur auprès de Silicon Valley. Il s’agit donc de l’activité diplomatique consistant à traiter d’un sujet unique la technologie. Le gouvernement danois considère que le pouvoir économique des grandes compagnies technologiques est devenu tel qu’il peut se transformer en influence politique c’est à dire jouer le même rôle que les États (Fletcher, 2018).


La twiplomacy c’est l’usage de Twitter pour traiter de sujets à caractère diplomatique de la part aussi bien des hommes politiques, des diplomates, de la société civile que de simples individus.
La data diplomacy est la diplomatie qui se sert des données notamment les mégadonnées (big data) pour mettre en œuvre sa politique extérieure ou à tout le moins une partie de celle-ci.

L’algorithmic diplomacy peut être considérée comme une sous-spécialité de la Data diplomacy, puisqu’elle se sert aussi des données mais en les analysant grâce aux algorithmes pour arriver à des conclusions devant lui faciliter la prise de décisions.


La Hashtag diplomacy consiste dans l’usage des hashtags # notamment dans Facebook et Twitter pour amplifier et démultiplier le message que l’on veut faire passer en vue d’atteindre l’audience la plus large possible et en suscitant un maximum de réaction et de commentaires: l’idéal étant d’arriver à créer le buzz.


Enfin la Smart power diplomacy consiste dans la combinaison et le bon dosage entre hard et soft power afin d’arriver à la smart power diplomacy. La notion de smart power a été forgée par le Professeur Joseph Nye (Etheridge, 2009) et c’est Hillary Clinton qui a popularisé l’emploi de l’expression ainsi que son utilisation effective en diplomatie en parlant de smart power diplomacy lorsqu’elle était secrétaire d’état (CBC, 2009).


Au dela de ces concepts qu’en est-il maintenant de l’évolution du concept de diplomatie digitale ? Sur le plan historique le premier acte de diplomatie digitale est attribué par Tom Fletcher dans son ouvrage “Naked Diplomacy” à Carl Bildt, ancien Premier Ministre de Suède qui a envoyé au Président américain un courriel en date du 4 février 1994 pour le féliciter à propos de la levée de l’embargo à l’égard du Vietnam (Fletcher, Naked Diplomacy, 2016). En allant outre les canaux traditionnels utilisés jusqu’à cette date et en utilisant pour la première fois internet pour une correspondance officielle, l’homme d’état suédois aurait ainsi été le premier utilisateur de la diplomatie digitale. Par contre Xavier de la Porte estime que la Diplomatie Digitale a démarré en 2009 au moment où Hillary Clinton était Secrétaire d’état. Celle-ci a recruté deux jeunes férus de technologie Alec Ross et Jared Cohen afin que la politique extérieure américaine puisse tirer le maximum de l’influence et du pouvoir que permet l’utilisation des réseaux sociaux. Et l’auteur de conclure que : « les américains ont été les pionniers dans cette nouvelle manière de faire la diplomatie » (Porte, 2013). Au-delà de l’aspect concernant la date et l’origine exacte de l’apparition de la diplomatie digitale, le plus important demeure que cette forme nouvelle de diplomatie n’a pu se développer et connaître autant de succès qu’avec l’apparition des réseaux sociaux et la croissance exponentielle de leurs membres tout au long des quinze dernières années. A cet égard il y a lieu de rappeler comme suit leurs dates de création.


● 2003 : Linkedin avec 610 millions d’utilisateurs à la date du 4 mars 2019 ● 2004 : Facebook avec 2,271 milliards d’utilisateurs par mois à la date de janvier 2019 ● 2005 : Youtube avec 1,9 milliards d’utilisateurs par mois à la date de janvier 2019 ● 2006 : Twitter avec 338 millions d’utilisateurs actifs à la date du 1 janvier 2018 ● 2010 : Whatsapp avec 1,5 milliards d’utilisateurs par mois et 60 milliards de messages par jour à la date de janvier 2019 ● 2010 : Instagram avec 1 milliard d’utilisateurs à la date de janvier 2019 Aux dates de création des réseaux sociaux et des statistiques de leur audience il faut ajouter d’autres faits significatifs dans l’évolution de la diplomatie digitale à savoir : ● 2007 : Les Maldives créent la 1ere ambassade virtuelle suivis peu de temps après par la Suède et l’Estonie. Les trois sites diplomatiques virtuels ont été” crées auprès de Second Life qui est un site très populaire auprès des jeunes et avaient pour objectif de répondre à toutes les questions posées sur les Maldives, la Suède ou l’Estonie. Toutefois cette expérience ne semble pas avoir été concluante car très peu d’autres pays ont emprunté cette meme voie. ● 2009 : Pour la 1ere fois un ambassadeur en exercice publie un tweet sur son compte en sa qualité d’Ambassadeur; il s’agit en l’occurence de l’ambassadeur du Mexique à Washinghton ● 2015 : Le Foreign and Commonwealth Office à Londres devient le 1er ministère des affaires étrangères à ouvrir un compte Snapchat. Afin de faire ressortir l’évolution qui s’est produite ces dernieres années certains auteurs parlent d’un passage de la diplomatie analogique à la diplomatie digitale. (Wallin, 2012). D’autres notamment l’Ambassadeur espagnol Antonio Casado Rigalt utilise d’autres images dans ce sens. En effet le diplomate espagnol dans la revue du ministère des affaires étrangères de son pays parle quant à lui d’un passage de la diplomatie digitale 2.0 à la diplomatie digitale 3.0 voulant dire par là que la 2.0 a consisté dans l’intégration de la communication digitale dans la pratique des ministères des affaires étrangères. Par contre la 3.0 serait l’étape suivante qui est la pratique de la diplomatie essentiellement par le digital.

Enfin d’autres comme Ilan Manor pensent par contre que l’évolution de la diplomatie digitale devrait amener celle-ci à terme à engager un dialogue direct avec les nations et populations étrangères. Toujours selon Manor le complément indispensable à toute stratégie de diplomatie digitale serait le “tailoring”(le sur mesure) plutôt que le “targeting”(le ciblage). L’auteur donne l’exemple de la perception des Etats-Unis au Pakistan et en Israël pour justifier sa proposition de solutions sur mesure plutôt que le ciblage global car manifestement la stratégie digitale américaine ne peut pas être la même au Pakistan et en Israël (Manor, 2018). Ceci étant l’examen de l’état des lieux de la diplomatie digitale au niveau mondial révèle l’existence d’un nombre incroyable de défis auxquels les ministères des affaires étrangères et les diplomates de chaque pays doivent faire face.

Tout d’abord l’élargissement de la liste des acteurs de la diplomatie pour inclure les individus, la société civile et les différents groupes d’intérêt change les données de base de ce métier dont les acteurs étaient uniquement des responsables gouvernementaux professionnels et respectant un code de conduite écrit (Convention de Vienne sur les relations diplomatiques) et non écrit (essayer à chaque fois d’arriver à un compromis équilibré et qui tient compte des intérêts légitimes des uns et des autres).

L’arrivée des nouveaux acteurs a amené avec elle les fake news ainsi que d’autres menaces beaucoup plus graves et qui peuvent affecter profondément la sécurité nationale. Il s’agit en l’occurrence des hackers aux motivations différentes; certains sont des lanceurs d’alerte et d’autres des criminels tout court.

Il s’agit aussi de ceux qui sont mus par une idéologie extrémiste pour défendre ce qu’ils croient être des causes justes et qui se servent de la toile pour le faire. Le résultat final dans ces cas est le développement de la cybercriminalité, du crime organisé et du terrorisme. La diplomatie dans tous ces cas de figure est amenée finalement y compris par le biais de la diplomatie digitale à lutter contre tous ces risques en gérant au mieux la négociation et la coopération internationales dans ces différents secteurs.

Enfin parmi les acteurs nouveaux ou peut être des acteurs anciens quand ce sont les États qui la pratiquent il y a la cyber guerre. On ne peut refermer cette liste des nouveaux acteurs sans mentionner les individus et/ou les groupes qui utilisent la toile pour engager un dialogue citoyen et même cette catégorie n’est pas facile à gérer. En effet les ministères des affaires étrangères disposent désormais d’une nouvelle audience plus élargie, composée de nationaux et d’étrangers et avec lesquels le dialogue doit être engagé pour obtenir leur adhésion à la politique extérieure suivie; faute de quoi cette frange de la population est capable de faire échouer si elle se mobilise les meilleures politiques tracées et appliquées. Enfin le dernier aspect concernant la diplomatie digitale et les ministères des affaires étrangères a trait à ce qu’on pourrait appeler la souveraineté digitale .

En effet le métier de base des diplomates est de défendre la souveraineté nationale; or de nos jours celle-ci est assaillie de tous les côtés par les assauts du digital; qu’il s’agisse des données personnelles, des données étatiques de la puissance et de l’influence des grandes sociétés qui utilisent le digital et qui arrivent à contourner la souveraineté fiscale des États, ainsi que leur puissance économique. De ce fait tout État qui n’a pas la maitrise de tout le cycle du numérique se trouve finalement sous l’emprise et le bon vouloir de ceux qui contrôlent les dits instruments digitaux et de ce fait la souveraineté numérique, sinon la souveraineté tout court de l’État s’en trouve par définition diminuée. Tenant compte de toutes les donnees qui précèdent la définition suivante nous semble la plus appropriee: “La diplomatie digitale est le recours aux Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication ainsi que la participation à l’élaboration des règles régissant la gouvernance de l’Internet afin de concrétiser les objectifs de la politique extérieure de l’État.”

 

NOTES


1- Marlene Duretz:”Dilemne numérique” in Le Monde du 14 janvier 2014. 2- Foreign policy in an era of digital diplomacy in Cogent Social Sciences. Mars 2017 3- L’explosion du numérique dans les relations internationales in Revue des deux mondes.
4- Thomas Gagniere: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, la diplomatie est morte vive la Techplomatie. Voir aussi Martin Untersinger “Un ambassadeur dans la Silicon Valley pour “conserver du pouvoir à l’ère du numérique” Le Monde 6 juin 2018 5- How Casper Klynge is reinventing diplomacy as the first tech ambassador in Journal The National du 3 mai 2018.
6- Eric Etheridge “How soft power got smart” New York Times 14 janvier 2009. 7- «Clinton touts smart power diplomacy for foreign policy », CBC News 13 janvier 2009. 8- voir page 78. 9- “Toute petite histoire de la diplomatie numérique”, France Culture le 6 novembre 2013.
10- Mattew Wallin “Analog vs Digital Diplomatic world” publié le 17 mai 2012 par American Security Project.
11- Ilan Manor, ”The digitalization of diplomacy: towards clarification of a fractured terminology” publié par Oxford digital diplomacy group.
12- Andres Ortega :”Soberania digital” El Cano Institute 29/52018.

 

Par Michaël Béchir Ayari, Senior Analyst, Tunisia.

International Crisis Group, 7 March 2019

 

Que se passe-t-il ?

Le 10 février 2019, dans une lettre à la nation, le chef de l’Etat Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82 ans, a annoncé son intention de briguer un cinquième mandat lors de l’élection présidentielle d’avril prochain, malgré une santé fragile qui l’empêche de s’exprimer publiquement, et à fortiori de faire campagne – il a été victime de plusieurs accidents vasculaires cérébraux depuis 2013. De nombreux Algériens ont interprété cette annonce comme la proclamation d’un nouveau quinquennat, vu le manque de transparence des scrutins. Une série de protestations contre « le mandat de trop » s’est alors emparée du pays. Leur ampleur est inédite et leur issue incertaine.

Ces protestations, qui se concentrent principalement sur le refus de cette nouvelle candidature, ont largement dépassé en intensité celles de 2014 contre le quatrième mandat. Le 1er mars, elles ont réuni entre 700 000 et 800 000 personnes à Alger et près de 2 millions dans le reste du pays, d’Annaba (Est) à Tlemcen (Ouest), même dans des régions jusque-là peu mobilisées.

Malgré l’ampleur de ces protestations, le directeur de la campagne de Bouteflika, Abdelghani Zaalane, a déposé le 3 mars devant le Conseil constitutionnel la candidature du président de la République, actuellement hospitalisé à Genève (Zaalane est le gendre du chef d’état-major de l’armée, Gaïd Salah). Le même jour, dans une lettre lue par une présentatrice à la télévision publique, Bouteflika s’est engagé, s’il est réélu, à mettre en place une « conférence nationale inclusive et indépendante » afin de « débattre, concevoir et adopter des réformes » sur le plan constitutionnel, institutionnel, politique et économique ; à établir un « mécanisme indépendant » pour organiser une élection présidentielle anticipée ; et à convoquer un référendum sur une nouvelle constitution qui ouvrirait la voie à une nouvelle République et à un nouveau « système », afin d’assurer « la transmission générationnelle ».

Dans cette même lettre, le président-candidat a aussi affirmé avoir « entendu les cris du peuple ». Sans succès. La rue algérienne a interprété ces mots comme un énième affront, voire comme une provocation. Si cette déclaration a répondu en partie aux demandes des manifestants et de certains partis politiques d’opposition (une conférence nationale inclusive, une commission indépendante pour organiser les élections, et une nouvelle constitution), de nombreux Algériens estiment que le président de la République, au pouvoir depuis vingt ans, n’est plus en mesure de prendre l’initiative et de fixer le rythme des réformes. Les manifestations continuent. Une nouvelle série de protestations est attendue pour le vendredi 8 mars, qui se trouve être aussi la Journée internationale des femmes, généralement marquée par des rassemblements.

En attendant, plusieurs mouvements d’opposition, dont les islamistes et le parti Talaie al Horiat (l’Avant-garde des libertés) d’Ali Benflis, ancien Premier ministre (2000-2003) et candidat aux présidentielles de 2004 et 2014, se sont réunis à Alger le 4 mars. Ils ont appelé à appliquer l’article 102 de la Constitution, qui permet de déclarer la vacance de la présidence en cas d’incapacité du président de la République à gouverner en raison de son état de santé. Ils ont aussi demandé le report du scrutin.


Comment analyser ce mouvement de protestation ?


L’annonce de la candidature du président Bouteflika à un cinquième mandat a suscité un sentiment d’humiliation nationale. Beaucoup de manifestants estiment que l’actuel chef de l’Etat ne représente plus les forces vives de la nation et que son instrumentalisation par des groupes d’intérêts qui gravitent autour de lui confine à l’absurde, vu son état de santé. Certains affirment également que le pays a perdu trop de temps et que, si Bouteflika avait cédé sa place en 2014, des réformes sociétales auraient déjà pu hisser l’Algérie au rang des grandes nations économiques.

Au-delà du refus d’un cinquième mandat, le mouvement en cours exprime quelque chose de plus profond. Il est alimenté par le désir de se réapproprier la rue, alors que les manifestations sont interdites dans la capitale depuis 2001. Les slogans ne sont pas sans rappeler ceux qui avaient animé le soulèvement tunisien de décembre 2010-janvier 2011 : « Game Over », « Le peuple veut la chute du régime/système », « Voleurs, vous avez pris le pays », « Algérie, libre et démocratique ». Mais contrairement à ce qu’on a pu observer en Tunisie, la question du mépris (hogra) dont souffrent les individus et régions marginalisés sur le plan économique passe au second plan.

Le mouvement possède également une dimension socio-culturelle. Les classes moyennes urbaines comme les classes populaires demandent que chacun puisse « profiter de la vie en Algérie et dépasser le traumatisme de la décennie noire » (1992-2002), et que personne ne doive « plus mourir en mer en traversant la Méditerranée vers l’Europe dans l’espoir d’y trouver l’eldorado et d’accéder aux plaisirs de la société de consommation ». Pour les manifestants, les réponses à ces aspirations existent, mais le « clan de Bouteflika » – le président de la République, sa famille, son directeur de campagne, le Premier ministre et une poignée d’hommes d’affaires du sérail – empêche leur mise en œuvre par son incapacité à trouver un successeur consensuel.

Jusqu’à présent, une forme d’union nationale est de mise lors des manifestations. Les revendications régionalistes sont absentes, et diverses catégories sociales défilent ensemble de manière pacifique face à un adversaire commun. La présence de familles (femmes, enfants, personnes âgées) dans les cortèges est un élément marquant en ce qu’il contraste avec ce qu’on a pu observer par le passé.

Enfin, les protestataires aspirent à un changement tout en affirmant leur soutien à l’armée nationale, « issue du peuple », mais aussi à d’autres forces de sécurité, comme le montre le slogan « Frères, frères, les policiers sont nos frères ».


Beaucoup d’observateurs dans le monde entier évoquent un mouvement spontané. Qu’en est-il sur le terrain ?


A Alger, rares sont les manifestants qui affirment que ce mouvement est entièrement spontané. La plupart d’entre eux disent ne se faire aucune illusion quant à la présence d’acteurs de l’ombre issus de différents secteurs de la société algérienne, qui alimentent ce mouvement à défaut de l’avoir suscité.

Nombre de ces acteurs participent en effet à ces protestations ou les soutiennent discrètement. C’est le cas de généraux mis à la retraite anticipée ces dernières années, de cadres et agents de sécurité frustrés par la dissolution du Département du renseignement et de la sécurité en 2015, et d’hommes d’affaires à la stature internationale, empêchés par les premiers cercles du pouvoir de développer pleinement leurs activités économiques. C’est aussi le cas de hauts fonctionnaires, de syndicats autonomes, d’associations de jeunesse, de militants des droits humains, d’étudiants, de journalistes, d’avocats, et de partis d’opposition intégrés au « système ».

La plupart de ces acteurs estiment nécessaire de « réinstitutionnaliser » le pays en neutralisant les forces « extraconstitutionnelles » (le clan Bouteflika) qui affaibliraient la résilience de l’Etat face aux défis économiques, sociaux et régionaux. Ceux-ci risquent de devenir encore plus aigus dans les années à venir, notamment si les réserves de change diminuent de manière significative, que l’inflation augmente et que le contexte sécuritaire se dégrade dans les pays voisins.

Enfin, ces acteurs semblent converger sur la nécessité de réduire le caractère informel, opaque et fragmenté du pouvoir pour « sauver le pays ». L’objectif, au-delà des discours pro-démocratie, est de rétablir les équilibres régionaux tacites au sein des centres de pouvoir, hérités de la guerre d’indépendance (1954-1962), et de renouer avec un minimum de règles pour réduire le règne de l’arbitraire dans le processus officiel de prise de décision.


Quels sont les scénarios possibles ?


Ce mouvement de protestation émerge dans un contexte régional et international particulier. Les Algériens sont tiraillés entre le souvenir de leur printemps démocratique raté de 1988-1991, la crainte d’un retour des violences de la décennie noire, l’aspiration à la liberté et la conviction que le mouvement actuel ne constitue pas une rupture par rapport au « système » mais s’y inscrit (notamment via le rôle de l’armée). Ils veulent éviter un scénario à l’égyptienne (polarisation entre islamistes et anti-islamistes, suivie d’un retour violent à l’autoritarisme) ou à la syrienne (guerre civile), et se rendent compte que les vertus de la démocratie libérale sont remises en cause au niveau international et même en Tunisie. Il est donc très difficile de dire ce qu’il adviendra, en particulier parce que tout dépendra de l’intensification ou de l’affaiblissement de l’élan mobilisateur dans différents secteurs de la société.

Mais vu la diversité des acteurs qui aspirent au changement, il est probable que les protestations montent crescendo tant que Bouteflika maintiendra sa candidature. Leur caractère pacifique ou violent dépendra principalement de la réponse des forces de sécurité. Si celles-ci se montrent aussi professionnelles que lors des récentes protestations, se gardant de charger les foules sauf lorsque celles-ci convergent vers les bâtiments publics, il y a de fortes chances que les violences demeurent limitées du côté des manifestants.

L’article 102 de la Constitution pourrait éventuellement être appliqué. Il serait mis fin au mandat de Bouteflika pour des raisons de santé. Dans ce cas, le président du Conseil de la nation (chambre haute du parlement) assumerait la charge de chef de l’Etat pour une durée de 90 jours au maximum, au cours de laquelle une élection présidentielle serait organisée.

Les partis d’opposition, qui se contentent de suivre le mouvement de peur d’être accusés de récupération, risquent d’avoir du mal à faire entendre leur voix dans le cadre d’un débat politique ouvert sur les solutions potentielles. D’autant que si les mobilisations de masse s’intensifient, de nouvelles forces politiques et associatives émergeront, portant des revendications pour l’instant marginales, comme l’élection d’une Assemblée nationale constituante.

En parallèle, l’armée pourrait être tentée de piloter ouvertement un éventuel processus de transition. Le général à la retraite Ali Ghediri, candidat à la présidentielle, pourrait représenter une personnalité consensuelle, incarnant la « rupture dans la continuité ».

Les Algériens ont tiré les leçons de leur douloureux passé. Mais ils semblent une fois de plus contraints d’expérimenter avec des formes inédites de libéralisation politique, comme ce fut le cas en 1988, avec des conséquences incertaines. Certes, la polarisation entre islamistes et anti-islamistes n’est plus d’actualité. Les partis d’inspiration islamiste qui participent aux élections et sont représentés au sein du parlement et des assemblées populaires régionales et communales pourraient tirer profit de ces contestations et négocier une meilleure représentation politique, mais dans le contexte actuel, leur rôle, tout comme celui des salafistes quiétistes, apparait très marginal. Le risque de violences entre pro- et anti-cinquième mandat, voire entre partisans de la « réinstitutionnalisation » et défenseurs du statu quo, en revanche, est réel. Toute rupture avec le passé devra donc se faire progressivement et dans le respect de l’ordre constitutionnel. Ce ne sera pas facile.

 

Banners