Top stories of the week (18 – 22 June)

Fighting in the Kivus divides the UN Security Council (Congo Siasa)

Rwandan involvement in the recent fighting, which is still confined to a tiny patch of land of about twenty square kilometers, has fueled much debate in recent weeks. Most foreign diplomats in Kinshasa – as well as some in Kigali I have spoken with – privately agree with the conclusions of Human Rights Watch, that Rwanda is helping M23 recruit soldiers, and is possibly also supplying the rebels with food, weapons and free passage through their territory.

Kigali, however, has vehemently denied the allegations, and aside from expressions of concerns by diplomats – including a letter from Washington a few weeks ago – there have been few concrete demarches by capitals. Meanwhile, after a week of calm, the fighting saw a brief peak again on Thursday, when M23 was almost able to take a large military camp at Rumangabo and cut off the Bunagana road. Seguir leyendo

The EU asserts itself in Somalia*

Lynx helicopter photographed from the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (Photo: Radio Nederland Wereldomroep / Flickr)As EU leaders prepare to travel to Chicago to attend the NATO summit this weekend, it has been pointed out that they won’t have much to brag about regarding the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Nonetheless, Tuesday’s news coming all the way from the Somali coast may give them something to show.

According to the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) website:

EU forces conducted an operation to destroy pirate equipment on the Somali coastline…in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851 and has the full support of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. The focused, precise and proportionate action was conducted from the air and all forces returned safely to EU warships on completion…At no point did EU Naval Force ‘boots’ go ashore. Rear Admiral Potts went on to say “The EU Naval Force action against pirate supplies on the shoreline is merely an extension of the disruption actions carried out against pirate ships at sea…

Here you can read the NYT’s more vivid account of the operation (with helicopters involved). And here is the statement by the HR/VP Catherine Ashton’s spokesperson.

This is the first operation on the Somali coastline carried out by EUNAVFOR , and it was made possible thanks to Seguir leyendo

North Africa and the Sahel should be the EU’s #1 priority

This post originally appeared on The FRIDE Blog‘s IDEA of the Week section:

The European Foreign Affairs Council approved a «European Union Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel» almost a year ago, recognising the importance of the region for the EU. During recent months however, violence in Syria and the build-up of tension between Iran and Israel have moved the EU’s attention to this corner of the Middle East. The region’s geo-strategic importance justifies the EU’s attention, but not at the price of neglecting the North African “chapter” of the Arab spring. In fact, events such as last week’s controversial declaration of semi-autonomy for the Eastern Libyan province of Cyrenaica reminds us that this should be considered as the EU’s external action top priority. Seguir leyendo

…and it came to this: Joseph Kony memes

The activity of my Twitter feed (see here, here, here) says that Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 video campaign has been a total success. Although perhaps a paradoxical success, as most of the comments are extremely critical – in my opinion, rightly so.

Nonetheless, this critical reading may not be as widespread as the campaign itself (although if you are reading this, chances are that you are aware of these criticisms), so for this reason I am putting a link to where you can read about these debates in detail.

And also post these Kony memes which are as funny as symbolic of the dangers of over-simplyfying complex political situations into the good-bad, feel-good narrative which IC embraces. Seguir leyendo

Apuntes en torno a la final de hoy de la Copa Africana de Naciones

Los «elefantes» se enfrentan a las «balas de cobre» (chipolopolo) esta tarde por la corona del fútbol africano. Se trata de la tercera final para ambas ambas selecciones, aunque sólo Costa de Marfil ha conseguido ganar el título – lo hizo en 1996. Si Zambia se hiciese con la Copa sería el 14º equipo en conseguirlo (algo que da una indicación de lo mucho que cambia el panorama del fútbol africano, en el que ninguna selección o pequeño grupo de selecciones ha mantenido la hegemonía durante mucho tiempo…)

Para Zambia además, jugar la final en Gabón será algo tremendamente emotivo. Fue en la costa de este país en el que el equipo nacional, los chipolopolo, vivió la tragedia que ha marcado su historia desde entonces. Según este artículo de El País (19/04/93), el día 27 de abril de 1993: Seguir leyendo

DRC diplomat vs. Spanish princess – awkward moment of the week

This video, shown on TV last night, has been providing plenty of entertainment to Spanish social network users.

The incident ocurred during the annual reception by the King and the royal family of foreign diplomats in Spain. As it can be seen at 0:29, the Spanish princess Letizia and a DRC diplomat are about to shake hands when the diplomat moves his hand away and turns around leaving the princess visibly surprised.
Seguir leyendo

Publicado el informe de pares del CAD para España*

Recientemente ha sido publicado el informe de pares del Comité de Ayuda al Desarrollo (CAD) de la OCDE para España, con una evaluación sobre la cooperación al desarrollo española y una serie de recomendaciones.
En un contexto clave como el actual, con la entrada de un nuevo Gobierno y equipo al Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y Cooperación, y con una enorme reducción en los fondos disponibles, este informe puede servir como orientación para – pese a todas las dificultades – seguir trabajando para una cooperación al desarrollo española más eficaz.
A continuación se señalan algunas de las principales recomendaciones. El informe completo (en inglés), puede consultarse aquí. Seguir leyendo

1 + 2 trends to watch out for in African politics in 2012

The (by now not so much) new year always provides a good opportunity to lift our eyes from the detailed aspects of our day to day and embark on broader analysis, general reflections and compilations of what will be important for the starting year – both personally and professionally. In many ways this is a totally arbitrary decision for in fact dynamics, movements and trends do not know anything about calendar years, and what was important a few months back will in all likelihood continue without disruption. So, taking the time to reflect on what may be important in 2012 is in fact partly taking note of what has been recently happening and is likely to continue. Seguir leyendo

8º Congreso Ibérico de Estudios Africanos – call for papers

Para todos aquellos que trabajamos de forma académica en temas relacionados con África en esta parte del mundo, este año tiene una cita ineludible con la celebración del 8º Congreso Ibérico de Estudios Africanos en Madrid del 14 al 16 de junio de 2012. El congreso, titulado «Bajo el Árbol de la Palabra» contará con un total de 49 paneles, entre ellos uno co-organizado por quien aqui escribe.

Hasta el próximo 31 de enero de 2012 está abiero el llamamiento a paneles, y tod@s aquellos interesad@s deberán enviar una propuesta con un máximo de 400 palabras, asociada a algún panel (cada panel puede tener más de una sesión) y presentarse a través del formulario de la página web.

Seguir leyendo

It’s that time of the year… On Africa’s eleven top posts in 2011

The end of the year brings with it all sorts of compilations, lists and summaries of the good, the bad and the ugly of the year that’s coming to an end. And On Africa is no exception to this – see here the top-10 stories of 2009 (in English and in Spanish/español), and the ten photos that summarise 2010 (although without photos 😦 since the links broke when I transferred from Maneno to WordPress earlier this year and I have not fixed it yet…).

This year, I have compiled a list of the most viewed original posts written this year (according to WordPress). What this means is that the list excludes posts written in the past (the post most viewed this year is this one on Conguitos, a politically incorrect Spanish brand of sweets, written in march 2010). Also excluded are those posts that serve as self-promotion for pieces published for other media but to which I have made reference here.

So, whilst technically incorrect, the list makes this up in relevance, for these posts reflect better some of the most important news and stories in the African continent and beyond; with some exceptions – South Sudan independence, the war in Côte d’Ivoire (both these stories have op-ed pieces devoted to them and can be viewed on the «Other Work» section), as well as cultural notes. What is there includes: Zambia’s presidential election, Bin Laden’s death, Kenya’s invasion of Somalia and the «Arab spring» among others…

Enjoy these stories, leave below any comments you may have, and have a wonderful festive season and end of the year and beginning of 2012! Seguir leyendo