According to asurvey conductedin 2012 by the ArabBarometer, 84.5% of Algeriansare not interestedin politics and 52% donot have faith in the political system. Such lack of confidencemight suggestthat Algeria isready to engage in its own Arab Spring. However, almost a yearand a half has passed since the youngMohammedBouaziziset himselfon firein SidiBouzidin Tunisia, sparking a broad movementof revolts inseveral countries. However,despite somesporadic riots, Algeria remainsa long way from emulating the revolts seen in Tunisia, Syria, Libya orBahrain. This seemsparadoxicalin a country thatwas one of theleadersof the decolonization movement.
BY MEHDI LAZAR and SIDI-MOHAMMED NEHAD | APRIL 30, 2013
Factors that could lead to a major revolt have nonetheless long been presentin Algerian society. In October 1988, for instance, a large anarchic protest movement led to the fall of the country’s single party system. The civil war that followed, however, neutralized the effects of the opening, and the long political hibernation that ensued has failed to resolvethe structural problems in Algeria, nor indeed to reconfigure the political field and depose the elite class. During the last decade, the general population has become deeply detached from the power, while the revival of Islamin Algerian society has become an essential component of Algerian political identity. Finally, the civil war rejustified the state inthe fight against terrorism. In this context, political Islam could appear both as a factor in the failure of the export of the Arab Spring, but also as a vehicle for changing the Algerian regime.
A strongly destabilized society that has recently undergone a major revolt
In the 1980s, population growth, the oil glutand the lack of economic and political reforms discredited the single-ruling party and led to the war of liberation. Obsolescence of its ideology translated, very procosiouslyin the Maghreb, into the major riots of October 1988 in which the malaise of society sought to regain control of its freedoms. Following the riots, effective Islamist discourse on inequality and injustice suffered by the people has served to delegitimize the FLN. The transitionto a multi party system, the emergence of a new press and the democratic openness that followed, also operated without discernment, led towhat could be called anearly “Arab Spring.”
However, the Islamists came to power in 1990, and the FIS victory in the legislative elections of 1991 triggered a "coup" carried out by the army, which was designed to block political alternation. From December 1991, Algeria experienced a wave of violence that degenerated, between 1992 and 1998, into a kind of civil war. This conflict arose between the military-backed regime and a complex network of covert Islamist opposition. According to unofficial figures, 60,000 people were killed during this period. In April1999, a page was turned with the election of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, military candidate and foreign minister under President Boumediene from 1963 to 1979. This election raised great hopes. The president quickly declared an amnesty limited to those responsible for the violence- the law on civil concord-and promised to implement fundamental reforms to halt the violent crisis that shook the country since 1992. Ironically, the FLN again became the first political force to align themselves with Islamist parties.
However, crisis factors remain: violence and corruption are high in Algerian society, and the gross inequalities felt by many social groups translate into a "contempt" of the government. The division between the elites and the rest of the population has not resolved since 1988 despite the emergence of democratic and peaceful elections. In addition, with the adsence of political plurality, violence could always ber egarded asalast resorttoa change in political power structures. This tendencyis fueled byunemployment andpoor housing, especially among younger people who are mostly skeptical aboutthe "official ideology."
Still,due to the fatigue of a decade of violence, the return of historical violencein the hands ofthe state -which islegitimized by the fight against terrorism-and the absence ofa figure thatcould centralizediscontentsignificantly reduces Algeria’s possibilities of a newpopular uprising. Moreover, increased oil revenues since the beginning of the Arab Spring have enabled theAlgerian stateto buysocial peaceunder thesefavorable economic conditions.
The ability of power to prevent mass movement and the role of the civil war
The beginning of thecivil warinAlgeriain 1992 coincided withthe appearance of twophenomenawhich contribute to preventingthe emergence of amovement similar to theArab uprisings.On the one hand, because of theviolenceandthe collapse of business, more than 4000 executives and academics haveleft the country leading to a great brain-drain. On the other hand, the atomization of societyintovarious interest groupsseeking protectionfrom the state have exacerbatedsocial segmentationandprevented the emergence ofalternative politicalprojects.
The upsurge of China’s economic supremacy is being monitored carefully in many parts of the worldlargely because the impact of this new ‘economic power house’ would have significant implications for developed and developing countries throughout the world.While there are arguments that effective policy reforms may have triggered robust export of Chinese manufactured products that increased the economy’s international competitiveness, China is showing no signs of losing its grip of the global economy as yet.
BY HAMZA BUKARI ZAKARIA | APRIL 30, 2013
The ramifications of this increasing economic might on Sub Sahara African countries cannot be underestimated. In order to consolidate its influence over the global market, covert and overt attempts are being made by China to penetrate into new and emerging markets. As if the wild quest to find destinations for their exports is not enough, the Chinese have relentlessly launched a grandiose search for raw materials such as gold, petroleum, copper, and coal to keep their economy in motion.Ngomba (2007) observed that China’s hunger for natural resources in Africa seem to be influenced by the support the former rendered to many resource rich countries in Africa during nationalist movements that led to independence in many African countries. This has led to the intensification of interaction between China and many African countries in recent decades, culminating in what could be described as significantly ‘profit oriented’ (Sautman, 2006). Ghana, a relatively small West African country has become attractive to Chinese mercantilist interests chiefly as a result of her natural resource endowments, more especially by her richness in gold deposits.
It is important to note that mining and other forms of mineral exploration in Ghana is appropriately regulated by state institutions that are enjoined by law to manage the mining sector. Even though these agencies discharge their duties on a daily basis, it is quite disturbing that illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey in Ghana is growing at an alarming rate. Originating from the expression‘gather and sell’, galamsey operations are inherently small scale alluvial mining activities dominated by native Ghanaians because the law does not allow non-natives to operate small scale surface mines. This is however changing rapidly due to Chinese involvement in the gold trade. The paper argues that the preponderance of illegal mining in Ghana can be understood better by looking beyond popular justifications by Ghanaian nationals who attribute their involvement in the trade to mere joblessness and nationwide poverty.The proliferation of illegal mining must be situated within the context of massive participation of Chinese nationals in the illegal gold mining business. The paper offers a local government perspective to ongoing debates about the Chinese involvement in small scale mining activities in Ghana. Firstly, the paper highlights the status of small scale artisanal mining by focusing on illegal mining activities. A brief overview of Ghana-China relations is given, followed by a description of the study areas and the participants interviewed for the study. Attempts by key stakeholders to address the opportunistic mad rush for gold is explored, and the perspectives of residents in mining communities, community leaders, local government administrators and elected representatives of mining communities are elicited to ascertainthe perceived ‘foreign invasion’ of the mining industry. The consequences and implications of Chinese participation in unauthorized gold mining in the study areas are examined, and some recommendations proposed accordingly.
The Anatomy of Small Scale Mining in Ghana
Small scale mining in many parts of the world is seen as an informal economic activity regardless ofits potential destructive environmental impacts. Nonetheless, what may be described as ‘small scale mining’ tends to be influenced by the degree of sophistication and level of technological investmentit attracts, and this invariably differs from one place to another.In Ghana, small-scale (gold) mining, for example, is defined as“…mining (gold) by any method not involving substantialexpenditure by an individual or group of persons notexceeding nine in number or by a co-operative societymade up of ten or more persons” (Government of Ghana, 1989). It is mostly seen as an activity for people with little alternative means of survival especially in rural hinterlands where mineral deposits are found. In Ghana, the geographic landscape of illegal mining stretches along the southwesternand northeastern parts of the country whereproduction begins with the identification of prospective sites that are believed to be endowed with precious minerals.Appiah (1998) reported that about 200,000 people are involved in the small scale mining industry in Ghana alone, even though recent estimates place the figure at 1 million people (UNECA, 2011).
Central Africa, as a geopolitical complex and security complex, is plagued since independences to the dynamics of insecurity and border smuggling, structured around the mechanic of networks and the entrepreneurship system.
BY HANS DE MARIE HEUNGOUP, ISIDORE COLLINS NGUEULEU DJEUGA | APRIL 30, 2013
This is especially true in the CEMAC zone, where the permeability of intra-regional and interregional borders has become a commonplace. Entrepreneurs of insecurity here are rebel groups, militias and armed gangs, bandits and urban gangs. These cliques are enterprises in the sense of liberal capitalism. They seek to minimize their costs and maximize their profits. Based on various trafficking and smuggling networks and taking advantage of the porous borders, they are able to acquire the necessary equipment to generate insecurity and instability. These insecurities and instabilities are used at different scales as an investment whose benefits can be beneficiaries enrichment (case of Bandits), the control of an urban or rural area (gang case), the control of a sub-state territory (case of militias and armed bands) or to coup d’état within a state (in the case of rebellion). It is important to identify and highlight their relationship with the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) insecurity in the sub-region.
The theoretical blueprint of this article focuses on the following questions: is there a correlation between smuggling and insecurity in Central Africa? To what extent the entrepreneurship of insecurity fits into trans-border dynamics of the regional economy of crime? How smuggling networks and entrepreneurs of insecurity organize themselves for the control of territories and the taking of State powers? This article is in the interstices of political geography and geopolitics, and draws on the sociology of territories and sociology of networks. The theoretical challenge is to show how entrepreneurship of insecurity is characterized by the triptych network, territory and power. It is also shown that in the absence of cooperation and pooling of efforts between Member States in Central Africa, the fight against insecurity, SME networks and smugglers will continue to be a zero-sum game. The hypothesis is formulated as follows: the permeability of borders in the sub-region promotes the proliferation of smuggling, which in turn catalyzes the transnationalization of companies of insecurity. These entrepreneurs are on a quest for the control of territories and the taking of power of State. This text is organized around a binary motion. The first movement constitutes the typography of entrepreneurs of insecurity and smuggling networks in the region. The second movement is an alignment of datas of the research with the theoretical problematic.
BY DR. MEHMET OZKAN | APRIL 30, 2013
Turkey’s position bridging Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and its growing economic and political power, make it an increasingly important regional and international actor in terms of security, leadership and governance. Within this context, a particular trend over the last decade has been the increasing leadership role of Turkey in conflict resolution and peacebuilding in such African contexts as Somalia and Libya. Compared to a number of other actors such as Western powers, the US and China, Turkey is relatively new in African politics and trade circles. However, it has already expanded its area of influence in the continent by linking its soft power tools of transportation links, trade and education closely with its foreign policy.
BY PROF. DR. ALPASLAN OZERDEM | APRIL 30, 2013
In its most generalized and simplified terms, the process might proceed as follows: once an African country is identified as a strategic foreign policy priority and the Turkish Foreign Ministry establishes its diplomatic presence there, it is very likely that Turkish Airlines would soon launch a flight destination in that country. This would be followed by increasing economic links formed by a wide range of globally active Turkish companies. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry would probably sign an agreement to ease the existing visa regime between Turkey and that country to increase the level of interaction in the realms of commerce, academia and culture. A number of Turkish schools from the kindergarten to high school levels in the country concerned would also be likely to play an active role in consolidating such diplomatic and trade relations. These private schools are highly sought after by local communities in their particular contexts, as they provide top level education. Finally, the Turkish government may provide scholarship opportunities to graduates of these schools in order to take a university degree in Turkey.
In a wide range of African countries, from Senegal and Niger to Gabon and Cameroon, such a foreign policy strategy has proved to be successful, with fast growing partnerships in the economic and political spheres. Moreover, in war-torn countries like Somalia, Turkey has become one of the most active actors in the humanitarian and peacebuilding contexts. In August 2012, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accompanied with his family, a number of ministers and a large group of Turkish business people and celebrities travelled to Somalia to raise awareness to the ongoing conflict and famine in the country. Prime Minister Erdoğan was the first non-African leader visiting Somalia over the last two decades. There have been a number of Somalia peace talk initiatives organized by Turkey acting as an independent third party respected by almost all conflicting sides in Somalia. Turkish Airlines provides the only international gateway for Mogadishu, while Turkish aid organizations and the Turkish bilateral development agency TIKA are highly active in a wide range of infrastructure, welfare and service sector programmes in the country. Also, a substantial number of university students from Somalia have already been provided with scholarships to study in Turkey.
In other words, Turkey as a rising power is no longer a shy actor of international relations and is steadily showing its presence in most parts of Africa. In keeping with the growing Turkish proclivity for developing its relations with African countries in commerce, trade, education and culture, there are likely to be other similar cases to Somalia where Turkey would again provide its diplomatic, financial and humanitarian assistance to those African countries torn apart by armed conflict. However, if this is a likely scenario for Turkey in Africa, what should be the main cornerstones of its approach to peacebuilding in the continent so that it could avoid mistakes made by other external actors? Also, considering that Turkey claims its increasing interest and influence in Africa is nothing to do with the exploitation of the rich natural resources of the continent as might be the case for other external actors, and on the contrary, is all about to work with African countries as equal partners, how could and should its approach differ, and how can it develop its own trademark approach in assisting those countries in the enormous challenge of building peace? We recommend the strategy of ‘conflict transformation’ with a specific emphasis on the role of ‘youth’ in peacebuilding.
Transforming Conflict and Building Future Peace with Youth
The complex and multifaceted nature of human insecurity is intrinsically linked to shortcomings in governance and poor leadership in a world characterised by globalised conflict and general insecurity. In other words, war and conflict arise from an interconnected set of causal factors, but foremost amongst them are weak or repressive governments and lack of effective political leadership. The many conflicts occurring and recurring in Africa and recent events across the Arab world have demonstrated this in visceral terms.
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