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

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

Welcome the ‘militar-aid’?

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Protesters flee through a cloud of teargas during clashes in Cairo. Photograph: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters. Source
Recent news point donors may have found a way of halting the dwindling committment to development aid brought about by the financial crisis: linking development aid and military spending.
Since coming into power the UK’s conservative government has sought to link sustained aid spending with the dangers poised by unstable states global insecurity. This is what the British foreign secretary says about this:

We are also placing a much greater emphasis on conflict prevention in our National Security Strategy. We are increasing the amount we devote to international development, so that from 2013 we will spend 0.7 percent of GNI on aid. Within that we are doubling our investment in aid for fragile and unstable countries over the next five years, so that we will spend nearly a third of our aid budget in fragile and conflict-affected states. This assistance will help to create security in some of the poorest countries in the world.

This justification of aid based on self-interested motive is – as Owen Barder writes – not a good idea.
Now, come the news that Holland directly wants:

the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to count military spending for promoting peace and security in developing nations as development aid.

And, also, growing concerns that the

proposed merger of the European Union’s humanitarian aid and crisis management budgets after 2013 would increasingly politicize the bloc’s aid.

This trend of linking security and development has been on the increase for a while, and it presents important problems, as Michael Young writes in this Foreign Affairs article, “Development at Gunpoint“:

militarized aid is ineffective as an ongoing strategy for four reasons: the pressure to spend huge funding quickly, the inability to match human resources with project management demands, the dominance of short-term political goals over longer-term development needs, and the focus of aid on certain groups for tactical gain.

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Problems also highlighted by the recent DARA Humanitarian Index 2010 (blogged before), which shows:

the increasing politicization and militarization of humanitarian aid which compromises effective assistance to vulnerable populations and endangers humanitarian workers.

And if this is not enough, can people in charge of these budgets simply look at their TV screens? Doesn’t the result of spending massive amounts of aid in the military of countries like Egypt not make them want to give this idea a second thought?