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. Sigue 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 Sigue 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. Sigue 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. Sigue 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: Sigue 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.
Sigue 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. Sigue leyendo