Highlights from SFRC Hearing on Security Assistance in Africa

Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health held a hearing on U.S. Security Assistance in Africa. The hearing was webcast, and you can also find the testimonies of Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Puneet Talwar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda Dory, and Lauren Ploch Blanchard of the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Testimonies focused on security assistance programs that have been in place for several years as well as the new security assistance initiatives proposed within the last year (Security Governance InitiativeAfrican Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, and Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund).

 Highlights, taken directly from the testimonies, are as follows:

  • U.S. security policy addresses three broad priorities: peacekeeping and the prevention of additional conflicts, strengthening the security sector in partner states, and countering terrorism and other transnational threats.
  • U.S. security assistance still comprises a small percentage of overall U.S. foreign aid to Africa, but both have grown considerably. 
For historical context – in FY1985, security assistance for Africa was $168M, or about 17% of all U.S. aid for Africa at that time. 
By CRS calculations, security assistance for Africa in FY14 was approximately $800M (~$500M provided through State Department funds and ~$300M under DOD authorities), representing approximately 10% of the aid total for Africa.
  • Between FY10 and FY14, Department of Defense-appropriated security assistance represented 29% of U.S. security assistance to Africa. These Title 10 security cooperation funds totaled $53.7M in FY10 and $379.6M in FY14.
  • The increase in DoD (Title 10) funds in Africa has been tied to increased efforts to build African counterterrorism capacity through East Africa and Yemen Counterterrorism (1203), Global Train and Equip (1206 and 2282), and Global Security Contingency Fund (1207) authorities.
  • Relative to FY14, the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF), announced by President Obama at West Point last May, could represent a doubling of U.S. security assistance spending in Africa, and DoD’s FY16 budget request for CTPF would dwarf State Department-administered funds for the region – if funds requested in FY16 are appropriated and obligated as the Administration has proposed.
  • DoD’s FY16 budget request for CTPF includes approximately $1.27B (out of a global request of more than $2.1B) for East Africa, the Lake Chad Basin, and the Sahel/Maghreb, building on planned DoD CTPF funding of more than $460M for these areas in FY15.

For many years, there’s been chatter about the U.S. military “ramping up” in Africa or some sort of “Africa Pivot” (a play on the “Asia Pivot” that was discussed earlier in the Obama Administration). In my opinion, the notion of an “Africa Pivot” ignores the reality that the continent still ranks relatively low in the global context of U.S. national security priorities. Regardless, the initiatives being developed and implemented are the biggest expansion of U.S. security assistance in Africa since the standup of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007/2008. The budget numbers show that while U.S. security assistance to Africa is increasing, it’s still a relatively small percentage of total U.S. assistance to Africa (10% in FY14, compared with 17% in FY1985). The increase in spending is tied to DoD (Title 10) programs that are focused on countering terrorism, which far outpaces State Department funding for non-military security assistance to law enforcement, border security, and criminal justice – as mentioned in the testimonies. I’d be interested to see how these percentages shake out once FY16 funds are appropriated and obligated, and whether this increase in security assistance to Africa – particularly for DoD – will continue into the next Administration. More importantly, I’d be interested to see how this expanded DoD security assistance will be monitored and evaluated, and how those results will contribute to the debate on whether the type of security assistance the U.S. offers “works.” (My thoughts on that here; the gist is that counterterrorism assistance is necessary, but insufficient to contribute to stability.)

In closing, I’d like to recommend Lauren Ploch Blanchard’s testimony as a valuable source on U.S. security assistance in Africa. Her testimony gives the historical context of such assistance, links it to evolving strategic guidance, fleshes out the various security assistance accounts, authorities, and programs, and previews the Administration’s FY16 budget request as it relates to security assistance in Africa. This is the (insert culturally appropriate religious text) of security assistance in Africa.

Buhari Against Boko Haram: What He Brings to the Fight

(Originally published in War on the Rocks on June 1, 2015)

Since February, the counter-Boko Haram fight has gained momentum, a function of the imperative imposed by a need to improve security prior to Nigeria’s elections, as well as increased regional cooperation with neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, and an influx of South African mercenaries. Yet, up until weeks before his loss to the newly inaugurated president Muhammadu Buhari, Goodluck Jonathan’s approach to Boko Haram was a microcosm of the ineffectiveness that plagued much of his administration. Buhari’s inauguration now raises the question of whether he can contain the spread of terrorism from northeastern Nigeria more successfully than his predecessor.

In spite of recent momentum, several factors are working against the new president — namely the damaged credibility of the Nigerian military, in which General (ret.) Buhari served for over two decades, including as a military ruler between 1984 and 1985. Formerly a major contributor to United Nations and regional peacekeeping missions, Nigeria eventually withdrew the majority of its forces from Mali and Darfur due to its difficulty managing the expansion of Boko Haram. Its reputation as a regional security provider bruised, Nigeria now has half as many peacekeepers in UN missions as it did in 2008. Morale is low, with some of the military’s rank and file asserting they have not received the training and equipment necessary to be effective in military operations in the northeast. Some soldiers have been fired for cowardice, while others have been sentenced to death for refusing to engage Boko Haram in combat. There have also been allegations of security sector corruption, which has eroded the military’s ability to fight Boko Haram.

(Read the Rest of the article on the War on the Rocks website)

How might Burundi’s political instability affect its integrated military?

After weeks of protests against Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s intent to seek a third term, a cabal of military officers launched a coup on 13 May. Although the coup ultimately failed, it laid bare divisions within the military, which had thus far remained neutral. This development raises the question of how the political dispute over the president’s eligibility to seek a third term might impact the cohesiveness of Burundi’s military, integrated in the aftermath of the country’s 12-year long civil war.

Military integration is a peace-building strategy that involves incorporating or amalgamating armed groups into a statutory security framework as part of a transition from war to peace. According to Roy Licklider in New Armies from Old: Merging Competing Military Forces after Civil Wars, military integration is an increasingly common mechanism to include in peace agreements. Between 2000 and 2006, 56% of civil war settlements included provisions for integration, compared with 10% of all agreements in the 1970s.

The military integration process in Burundi was a product of the Pretoria Protocol on Political Defence and Security Power Sharing and the accompanying Forces Technical Agreement, signed in October 2003. These agreements complemented the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, and stipulated that all armed groups were to be disarmed and integrated into the army and police force.

Burundi’s current political instability highlights the importance of three aspects of the country’s military integration process, which could test the cohesion of the force amidst this crisis:

  1. The Use of Quotas

In “Perils or Promise of Ethnic Integration? Evidence from a Hard Case in Burundi,” Cyrus Samii found that the Burundian military operates as a deeply integrated and cohesive institution at the macro levels as a result of the imposition of ethnic quotas during the process of military integration. The Arusha Accords established the concept of 50% Hutu-50% Tutsi quotas in the military in order to overcome the country’s history of coups and ethnic conflict. In addition, the top officer echelon would have 60% (Burundi Armed Forces) FAB and 40% Congress for the Defense of Democracy Forces – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), with the margin between these quotas to be made up with Hutu members of the FAB, combatants of other armed political parties, and new recruits. Samii furthermore concluded that, at the micro level, the contact that resulted from integration reduced the prejudices and ethnic salience among former combatants. This is contrary to the findings he cited from the field of social psychology, that such a method could intensify or “freeze” conflicting ethnic identities.

Favorably, the group of military and police officers that attempted to overthrow Nkurunziza was multi-ethnic, and included insiders from the president’s party, the CNDD-FDD. Meanwhile, the military has not yet fractured according to ethnic lines or civil war era armed group affiliations, which may be an indication that imposing quotas on the security forces has prevented the military from being more disruptive in a time of political uncertainty.

  1. Political Power-Sharing Arrangements

Burundi’s transition from war to peace included both military and political power-sharing arrangements. In “Civil War Settlements and the Implementation of Military Power-Sharing Arrangements,” Matthew Hoddie and Caroline Hartzell argue that military integration can only succeed as part of a wider peace-building initiative. Likewise, in “Rebel—Military Integration and Civil War Termination,” Katherine Glassmyer and Nicholas Sambanis suggest that political and military power-sharing provide mutually reinforcing assurances, thereby increasing the success of a military integration process. In the context of Burundi, the president’s attempt to seek a third term has arguably weakened the political pillar of these arrangements.

In February, Nkurunziza dismissed the leader of last week’s coup, General Godefroid Niyombare as head of intelligence for advising him against seeking a third term. Although Niyombare’s coup ultimately failed, it has indicated divisions in the military that are tied to how the force sees its role as a protector of the Arusha accords and the constitution. In fact, former Defence Minister Pontien Gaciyubwenge had affirmed earlier this month that the military would not take any actions that would undermine the Arusha accords and the constitution. He was sacked on Monday, in a cabinet reshuffle that also included the Ministers of External Relations and Commerce. With the erosion of political power-sharing in the spirit of the Arusha accords, it may be increasingly likely for the integrated military to disintegrate, thereby confirming the aforementioned hypothesis on the relationship between political and military power-sharing arrangements.

  1. Military Efficacy and Cohesion

As military integration is implemented concurrent to other peacebuilding measures, it is difficult to isolate the specific effects of the process in order to determine its success or failure. However, in New Armies from Old, Licklider attempts to designate factors that could indicate the success or failure of an integration process. One is military efficacy, which is the extent to which the new military can perform tasks or remain integrated in peacetime. In the context of Burundi, the military’s ability to contribute to regional peacekeeping operations as Nina Wilén, David Ambrosetti, and Gérard Birantamije detail in “Sending Peacekeepers Abroad, Sharing Power at Home: Burundi in Somalia,” demonstrates that the process has been successful this far, according to Licklider’s criteria. Other indicators suggested by Licklider and applied to the case of Burundi would be whether the military is subject to civilian control when ordered into use against domestic opponents, and whether the integration has made the resumption of large-scale violence less likely. Like the use of quotas and the erosion of political power-sharing arrangements, the fallout from the failed coup and fears of reprisals against the media and protesters will test the efficacy and cohesion of the Burundian military. Indeed, as protests resumed in parts of Bujumbura on Monday, it was the military that supplanted the police in restoring order to the capital city – the first time they had played this role since protests began last month. Furthermore, amid reports of thus far non-violent conflict within the military as to whether to use force to suppress the protesters, the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff had to be called in to prevent the confrontation from escalating.

 A decade after the end of its civil war, Burundi’s military has been considered a successful case of military integration, especially in contrast to attempts at military integration in the Eastern Congo and South Sudan. However, how the military fares in the coming weeks and months could provide important data on what factors cause militaries integrated during war-to-peace transitions to subsequently disintegrate.

Trying to understand the protests and attempted coup-iny in Burundi

Perhaps you’ve been following the weeks of protests in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s intent to run for a third term and the subsequent attempted coup-iny (no one quite knows what to call it, so I combined coup & mutiny) of 13 and 14 May. If you’re like me and are struggling to understand what exactly is going on in the runup to legislative and elections originally scheduled for May, June, and July I’d recommend consulting four sources that will give you a sense of recent developments & reference other valuable sources:

  1. The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage Blog (@monkeycageblog) posts on Burundi.
  2. #BurundiSyllabus: Context for the Current Crisis by @SarahEWatkins
  3. Timeline of Events in Burundi by @DHirschelBurns
  4. Burundi: Key Actors and Speculative Musings by @ethuin

It sounds like all of these sources will continue to be updated as the situation unfolds, so definitely keep your eye on them.

New Report: The Anatomy of the Resource Curse: Predatory Investment in Africa’s Extractive Industries

My colleague, J.R. Mailey of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, just published The Anatomy of the Resource Curse: Predatory Investment in Africa’s Extractive Industries. Full disclosure: I haven’t read the report in its entirety, but I’ve seen J.R. brief on this topic and know the investigative and analytical work that went into producing it, so I’d highly recommend reading it. A summary is below:

With more than 20 countries possessing bountiful oil and mineral deposits, Africa is home to more resource-rich states than any other region in the world. If accountably governed, natural resource wealth could be a boon to a society, enabling valuable investments in infrastructure, human capital, social services, and other public goods. Yet, living conditions for most citizens remain dismal as a result of inequitable distribution of resource revenues. Natural resource wealth is also strongly associated with undemocratic and illegitimate governance. Roughly 70 percent of the world’s resource-rich states are categorized as autocracies. This pattern is not a coincidence. The steady flow of natural resource revenues funds the patronage and security structures these governments rely on to remain in power without popular support. Nearly without exception, Africa’s resource-rich states also exhibit high levels of public sector corruption. States heavily reliant on the export of oil and minerals, moreover, face a greater risk of civil conflict than their resource-poor counterparts.

This report examines these linkages by tracking the practices of one group of investors that has been particularly active on the continent since the early 2000s: a Hong Kong-based consortium known as the 88 Queensway Group. Cultivating relationships with high-level government officials in politically isolated resource-rich states through infusions of cash, promises of billions of dollars in infrastructural development, and support for the security sector, Queensway has been able to gain access to major oil and mining concessions across Africa. Starting in Angola in 2003, Queensway has been engaged in the extractive industries in at least nine African countries, including Guinea, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

Queensway Core Structure

Contracts—often in the billions of dollars—between Queensway-affiliated companies and African governments are rarely made public. The syndicate’s leaders have forged deals found to be unfavorable to the respective countries as a whole by appealing to the short-term interests of those senior officials controlling their countries’ natural resources. Queensway’s collaborations with the governments of Africa’s resource-rich states have often failed to improve citizens’ living standards. Promised high-profile infrastructure construction projects regularly fail to materialize. Allegations of corruption among senior government officials who control natural resource contracts are widespread. Reputable extractive firms are cut out of the market, undermining the long-term health of the resource sector. And unaccountable governments are able to persist, propped up by the infusion of financial and material support to the regimes in power.

Queensway’s business model persists in Africa and elsewhere because of weaknesses in domestic and international oversight structures. First, at the national level, predatory investors operate in environments where the institutions needed to hold public officials and international corporations accountable are often absent. Second, failure by the governments of countries of origin (“home countries”) to regulate the overseas activities of corporations anchored in their jurisdictions helps these firms escape scrutiny. Third, the international legal and institutional framework for dealing with corruption and exploitation in the extractive industries by multinational corporations is deficient. The use of anonymous shell companies anchored in these jurisdictions prevents outsiders—potential business partners, banks, regulators, and law enforcement officials—from identifying who truly controls and benefits from the operations of unscrupulous corporations.

You can find the full text of the report here: http://africacenter.org/2015/05/the-anatomy-of-the-resource-curse-predatory-investment-in-africa%E2%80%99s-extractive-industries/  

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