Ties between Rwanda and Uganda appear to be deteriorating rapidly. The latest ebb in this historically volatile relationship stems from the Ugandan government’s pushback on what it perceives as Rwandan meddling in its domestic affairs. Though Ugandan officials have not gone public with any formal allegations, their dissatisfaction can be read in a recent string of increasingly high-profile incidents. Read more.
Negotiations to bring peace to South Sudan have restarted in earnest, with the parties circulating a power-sharing plan that has failed once before. It is unclear if negotiators have a new strategy to successfully resurrect that agreement or if they are simply out of ideas. Read more.
After a bruising round of negotiations that went days over deadline, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats struck a deal last week with the center-left Social Democrats to extend the coalition that has governed Germany for the past four years. Read more.
Two months after Germany’s federal elections, the country is on the brink of an unexpected political crisis. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats ran first in the vote, but they finished without an outright majority. Since election night, they have been casting about for coalition partners — a process that has proven surprisingly more difficult than political pundits anticipated. Read more.
The unusual harmony between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her main opponents may mask future problems for the country. Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) have not been pushed to articulate detailed positions on issues like the future of Germany’s economy, including growing inequality, or the German role on the international stage. The anti-climactic campaign has also crowded out disaffected voters, who are frustrated with the country’s current trajectory. Read more.
While stemming the flow of Africans fleeing to Europe has always been an aspect of Germany’s approach to the continent, the 2015 influx elevated it to an almost singular goal. Aid and development assistance are now increasingly linked to efforts to reduce migration. And Germany has demonstrated a willingness to strike or be party to arrangements with countries on the continent that have abysmal human rights records but can be helpful in curtailing new arrivals.
More than 11 years after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Dominic Ongwen’s arrest, and nearly two years after he was captured and transferred to The Hague, his prosecution finally began in December.
Ongwen’s will not be the only trial unfolding over the coming months. The years since the unsealing of the warrant against him have been rocky for the ICC, which has been accused of reinforcing global power dynamics and targeting geopolitically weak states, particularly in Africa. These were among the reasons three African countries—Burundi, South Africa and Gambia—cited in late 2016 when they announced they would begin the process of withdrawing from the statute that created the court. More are threatening to follow.
During this particularly fraught moment in the ICC’s history, Ongwen’s trial promises to keep many of these issues at the fore. And it could be used either to reinforce the court’s necessity or further undermine its legitimacy, especially on the African continent. Read more.
One of the more unexpected decisions to emerge in the waning days of Barack Obama’s presidency was his move last week to ease U.S. sanctions against Sudan that have been in place for nearly two decades. The move to open up Sudan’s economy might encourage the reforms that 20 years of sanctions have not. Read more.
The third anniversary last week of the start of South Sudan's ongoing civil war served only to reinforce how intractable that conflict has become. A peace deal is in tatters, along with the country's economy. With the return of the dry season, the combatants appear to be preparing for another round of fighting. And the United Nations is now warning of possible genocide. Read more.
In a sharp rebuke to the United Nations, Kenya has started the process of pulling its troops from the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. To make matters worse, Kenya is simultaneously disengaging from peace efforts in South Sudan, where a 15-month-old agreement to bring together warring parties was already on the verge of collapse. The moves by Kenya, which has been a key regional force in pushing for South Sudanese stability, could cement its failure. Read more.
Global interest in the conflict in Darfur has faded, allowing the Sudanese government to effectively seal off the region to outsiders and take control of the narrative. The narrative it presents, though, is not terribly cohesive: In early September, for instance, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir traveled to Darfur to declare that peace had officially returned, just weeks after African Union-backed peace talks fell apart in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
As international priorities have shifted, though, there appears to be little interest among global powers in challenging the government’s take, even as the reality that does emerge in the few unsanctioned dispatches from the region clearly undermines the official account. That includes a recent Amnesty International report documenting ongoing government-sanctioned violence across much of the region since the start of 2016. There is evidence those attacks may have included the use of chemical weapons against unarmed civilians. Read more.
Update: I was on World Politics Review's weekly podcast discussing the diminishing possibility of peace in Darfur.
The international public health community that has watched itsfinancing dwindle, even as scientific advances make it increasingly possible to actually end some of the world’s worst diseases. That includes HIV, officially the deadliest epidemic in history. The decline in global health funding threatens not just to stymie scientific advances against diseases like HIV, but to actually reverse gains made in the past decade. Read more.