Tackling the Arc of Instability in Africa

U.S. Aid to Africa

From the Arc of Instability to Africa’s Spear of Smart Cities

The African continent currently represents billions of dollars in USAID programming with little to no accountability for performance, anti-corruption measures, or efficiency plans that work towards sustainability. A variety of food-related assistance, protection services, cash transfers, health-related support, and shelter and settlement supplies are given to the regions across Africa that are being overrun by resurgences of militant extremists some of which have migrated from the Middle East in order to rebuild and re-provision their resources and recruits. On the other hand, aggressive Russian and Chinese ventures consume precious resources of the continent without contributing to its security and stability, nor its long-term growth and sustainability.

The US currently has few military bases there, and Europe even fewer. At recent security conferences and symposiums, military figures and politicians have discussed the problem of African refugees in Europe, closing borders in some countries, and the instability of some of the most socialized European economies as consequences of the increasing problems on the African continent.

As much as the extremists would enjoy more relief efforts from the US and Europe, this has not helped any of these problems in recent years. In fact, these efforts may have actually inflated the problems of violence, hunger, disease, poverty, homelessness, and oppression. What may be needed from the US is not more AID but SMART AID, updated anti-corruption measures and rethinking counter-terrorism operations.

Fatalities from Terrorist Attacks in Africa
New Terrorism Hotspot Africa's Sahel
African Map

According to the diagram above, over 2000 attacks have been carried out between 2000 and 2016 in locations which confirm the tactical creation of this Arc of Instability seen in the above map. The Africa’s Sahel therefore serves as a major midsection in global terrorist activities between Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Yemen to Europe and the United States through Central and South America. The attacks along the southern Mediterranean Ocean puts pressure on the Arc of Instability in North Africa and also secures controls for trafficking between Southern Europe and North Africa. The Arc of Instability along West Africa controls trafficking across the Atlantic Ocean between South and Central America and the United States.

Porous kept borders, borders open to infiltration through migration and illegal migration, have been documented in countries across the Arc of Instability, the EU, and the US-Mexico divide. The subject and governmental debates regarding porous borders have progressed with the globalization of the this intercontinental trafficking network as far back as the 1970s and ‘80s, at least during the Soviet’s period of thaw during the Cold War.

These maps also suggest that terrorist groups operating in these areas are not simply battling each other for influence and resources in areas that just happen to be too weak to resist their aggression, but rather are a coordinated effort over what is really shared territory. The mobility of terror cells is contingent upon and dictated by the locations of certain resources,  and transnational efficiency for the network.

“Commander of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), former General Carter Ham, warns that al Qaeda-linked groups, including al Shabaab, Boko Haram and AQIM, are attempting to “synchronise” activities across North Africa and the Sahel region,” according to a report provided by the Civil Military Fusion Center Mediterranean Basin Team. Arguably, we have not seen this scale of land, sea, and air coordination since WWII.

This geographic synchronization disputes the terrorism theory which in the past has argued that competition for resources and influence in a specific weak and unstable state is what drives terror in a specific area, but instead what the evidence suggests are active premeditated measures taken by coordinated groups to weaken and dominate specifically chosen areas. Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-shabab in Somalia, Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have been shown to be operating within the same global network while the use of military force against this system has been discouraged.

“A recent report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, suggests that Boko Haram will not be stopped by military force but that northern Nigeria’s communities need to receive socio-economic support from the government to dissuade them from supporting the militant group.” This points to the role of AID programs providing materials and services to these sensitive areas.

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AID programming provides a variety of relief measures to local populations such as food and medicine, shelter and supplies, protection services, and even direct cash transfers year after year. In spite of this AID meant to ease the suffering of victim populations in these areas, insurgents appear to be gaining and extending their strength through their expanding interconnections. Ties discovered between AQIM and Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria show that relief measures,  while mismanaged and unprotected, are attributing to the further entrenchment of terrorist control.

Reports that AQIM gained access to weapons such as small arms and machine-guns and surface-to-air missiles circulated in 2011, in spite of a coordinated and engaged military presence, following a Sahel-Saharan security summit in 2010 in which Algeria, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania tried to combat terrorism, organized crime, arms smuggling and kidnapping. What has hampered investigations and enforcement of counterterrorism measures is a weak and disjointed collective response in the application of the international rule of law, its forensics, and courts.

According to this study, “International community has never succeeded in developing an accepted comprehensive definition of terrorism. During the 1970 and 1980, the United Nations attempt to define the term foundered mainly due to differences of opinion between members about the use of violence in the context of conflicts over national liberations and self determination. This divergence has made it impossible to conclude on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.”

Since this time, the existence of multiple definitions of terror each countering each other have delayed the arrival of effective legal remedies, while the global terror network only continues to grow.

 

A New Defensive Strategy Followed by Smart AID and Smart Cities

While it has been estimated that these geographic areas represent where the next century of conflict will likely be taking place, efforts are underway to challenge the continuation of this status quo. Anti-corruption and counterterrorism measures are evolving in the realms of international relations, towards increased awareness, new and improved forms of engagement, and technological advantages which may succeed in countering the advancement of this global threat which has impacted life on every continent.

Public-private partnerships play a big role in recovery for these regions and their continued safety. This process has already begun with some European countries closing their borders followed by the US having fueled an internationally heated migration battle, but ongoing efforts understand and treat problems of migration also continue to drive foreign support across continents. Nanotechnology solutions and smart applications including cyber access for cities, manufacturing, farming and agriculture, energy, mining, transportation, and banking and credit monitoring are among the initiatives currently being discussed by private and public sector interests as offensive-defensive approaches to tackling the enormous challenges of global security and dwindling natural resources.

China as the fastest developing country in Asia is leading this initiative in Nigeria, which is the fastest developing country in Africa, with a recent 2.4bn currency swap to compete against the dollar. In 2016, the Abuja-Kaduna railway was commissioned, in 2017 the Lagos-Ibadan railway began construction, and the Abuja rail mass transit project was commissioned earlier this year. China is preparing to loan 100bn to Nigeria for infrastructure and trade after the Beijing Summit. Nigeria is regarded as the gateway to the continent, rich in natural resources like oil, and population roughly the same size as the Russian Federation. Nigeria-Russian relations include a 2012 nuclear energy agreement to design, develop, construct, operate and commission a nuclear power plant by 2025.

While the lack of regulation has provided the draw for foreign private-sector investment, abroad lured by increased profits and multinational growth potential in the security and infrastructure domain, the public-private engagement should be carefully engineered, with competitive interests and anti-corruption cross-checks and balances built in.

To ensure that developing countries reach important benchmarks for success and that superpowers do not become overstressed in their support, pressure should be applied internationally to incentivize AID, security, and investment programs.  These transnational programs should be earned,  with beneficiary countries encouraged at the local and state level to disavow and turn away from the support of terror and from any groups which may aid and abet the spread of such destabilization.  Having elicited co-operation of the people at the community grass-roots level , versus solely punitive counterterrorism measures by the state military apparatus, it is suggested that the model of earned aid provides a greater guarantee for the success of continued growth and sustainability of vulnerable regions,  such as Africa’s Arc of Instability.

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Recommended Read

If you are interested in learning more about this topic check out the New York Best Seller: Dead Aid

Summary from Amazon

A national bestseller, Dead Aid unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined―and millions continue to suffer. Debunking the current model of international aid promoted by both Hollywood celebrities and policy makers, Dambisa Moyo offers a bold new road map for financing development of the world’s poorest countries.

Much debated in the United States and the United Kingdom on publication, Dead Aid is an unsettling yet optimistic work, a powerful challenge to the assumptions and arguments that support a profoundly misguided development policy in Africa. And it is a clarion call to a new, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions.

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