Archive for April, 2015

The 4th Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa was held in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia on 18-19 April, 2015. The agenda for this year’s discussion was “secularism and Political Faith”. Hoping that you will have a glance of this wonderful Forum, I have included the outcome document.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

4th Tana Forum on ‘’ Secularism and Politised faith’’
Outcomes document
The 4th Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa convened in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on 18-19 April, 2015, on the theme “Secularism and Politicised Faith.” The Forum brought together Heads of States and Governments as well as high-level decision makers on peace and security; drawn from government, continental and regional institutions, the diplomatic community, private sector, civil society, academia, and other stakeholders. In total, two hundred and twenty (220) participants drawn from different parts of Africa and abroad participated in the Forum.
The Tana Forum has become a unique and veritable platform for keen debate among participants on current peace and security trends as well as concerns in Africa. The theme for this year was particularly instructive in view of how the proliferation of faith-inspired groups and movements are impacting, in profound ways, on the security landscape across the continent.
The deliberations over the two days produced the following key issues and recommendations.
Key Emerging Issues
1. Africa has shown dramatic progress in economic development, political stability and improved governance. 1
However, there are growing concerns that the stability of the continent is capable of being undermined by the activities of groups driven solely by exclusionary religious agendas and strategies;
2. Africa is a highly diverse continent; but the continent’s sheer diversity could be a source of immense opportunities but also of profoundly disturbing threats. There is therefore an urgent imperative to develop appropriate leadership capacities and governance infrastructures that serve the best interests of the states and their citizens;
3. There is a great need to articulate and develop an agenda of secularism underscored by the tolerance of different shades of opinions and religious tenets; where citizens are not threatened but rather feel a sense of belonging. It is the responsibility of governments, but also that of citizens, to promote peaceful co-existence among religions;
4. There is a real and immediate danger in the manner that external forces are reaching out to and becoming involved in the activities of faith-branded political groups. The need for preventive and precautionary measures to checkmate such external influences cannot be over-emphasised;
5. While it is the aspiration of governments and their citizens to enthrone stable and progressive social development, this must be done in the context of an acceptance of the principles of good governance; where fundamental human rights are protected, equity and rule of law prevails; 2
6. Governments should lead by example in combating corruption at all levels, especially within government and in business sector, and to use the wealth of nations to alleviate poverty, unemployment and hardships which undermines development, peace and security;
7. Special efforts are to be made to address the basic needs of women, youths and other marginalized groups of society in terms of education, job opportunities and participation in societal affairs. Real and practical efforts have to be made to mainstream such groups into decision-making processes, including those relating to conflict prevention, management and resolution, as well as peace-building efforts;
8. There is need for governments to work with other stakeholders and key national institutions to stem radical religious tendencies capable of undermining civil liberties and citizens’ security; and, as well, to focus on tackling their structural (or root) factors rather than dwelling on the symptoms;
9. The intellectual community have a pivotal role to play in the re-composition of public consciousness; including the construction of new social narratives that inculcates the spirit of citizenship amongst young people and provide them with sustainable avenues for constructive social engagement; and
10. The AU, along with regional economic communities, have a major role to play in providing strategic guidance to member states
1) It is stressed that there is need for early identification of religious beliefs, tenets and practices capable of putting state and citizen’s security at risk through innovative and robust policy frameworks and early warning systems;
2) It is recognized that diversity in Africa is an important characteristic of society and that governments need to recognise and facilitate dialogue that takes into account such diversity and to build on them for social harmony;
3) It is urged that states instil the spirit of tolerance through policies, capacity-building and facilitation of open dialogues between different groups regardless of their religious or political affiliations;
4) It is noted with urgency the need for African states, civil society institutions and faith-based organisations to be vigilant about the role and activities of radicalised movements that ultimately endangers the lives of all citizens;
Efforts being made by states, organisations and private individuals, are acknowledged but such must ultimately ensure that marginalised groups are mainstreamed at every 4
state in public policy planning, planning, implementation and monitoring initiatives. In this aspect, there is an urgent imperative for the full emancipation of women across the continent;
5) It is requested that states and responsible institutions show greater commitment to tackle corruption;
6) Achievements in various social and economic sectors across Africa are noted, but, we urge governments to demonstrate greater commitment towards monitoring and implementing values of human rights, inclusion, equity and rule of law;
7) It is noted with deep concern that the insecurity that continues to affect the continent through criminal and heinous attacks by groups such as Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab against civilian populations; including those against women and children in the name of religion, continues unabated. African states are urged to be more proactive, consistent and alert in securing and ensuring the security of all its citizens from such groups;
8) It is hoped that the enhancement of security should not be at the expense of democratic freedoms or Pan-African solidarity. Rather than evolve secure states that stifle initiatives or place border restrictions that limits interaction and mobility, more openness within and between African states should be encouraged or promoted. The collective energies of the African peoples should be mobilised to enhance security for all. ‘The people are not the enemy’;
9) Current efforts being undertaken by the AU to ensure peace and security on the continent is recognized and appreciated. Such must go further to also work with states to ensure adequate attention is put towards prevention and early warning systems. It is further urged that the AU work with states and other stakeholders to incorporate civic education at all levels of education with the goal of inculcating and building civic consciousness and promoting unity between and among citizens; including but not limited to formal education.

Read Full Post »

Professor Elizabeth Bradley @Yale

Congratulations to my dear friend Professor Elizabeth Bradley who was appointed as director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy at Yale University. A well deserved appointment.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »

Heavy rain in Addis


Looking out of my office window, raining hard. A conducive atmosphere to analyze.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »

No End in Sight-The South Sudanese conflict.

An excellent article. I believe option number one is the best option. The two “leaders” are part of the problem not the solution.I also believe that the scenario is only dependent on the will of IGAD, US, EU, etc. to be able to use the stick on these two not the warring parties.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

March 2015
No End in Sight
Africa Digest
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) would perform an important service to the people of South Sudan if it succeeds in ending the current civil war, revitalises the role of its collective leadership and decision-making, and transforms itself into a popular, democratic movement that appeals to its political rivals and the general population with the simple message of unity and equality, insist Abel Abate Demissie and Dr Mehari Taddele Maru
It has been a year and few months since the South Sudan conflict erupted and led to the killings of tens of thousands of civilians and the displacement of over two million people, more than 10 percent of the population, according to the United Nations estimate. There have been many peace and power sharing agreements signed between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Dr Riek Machar, but to no avail. On March 6, 2015, on the completion of the deadline for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-led mediation, the IGAD Chair, Prime Minister Haile Mariam of Ethiopia expressed his disappointment on the failure of the two warring parties to come up with a breakthrough in the mediation. With an intention of putting pressure on the warring parties while in a closed-door ‘final’ negotiation in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on March 3, the United Nations Security Council members unanimously adopted a resolution to impose sanctions on those disrupting efforts to restore peace in South Sudan. With the endorsement of IGAD countries, both Russia and China supported the sanction.

Challenges Affecting the Mediation Effort

International actors supporting the South Sudanese peace effort, including the IGAD as well as the ‘Troika’ (comprising the US, UK and Norway), have reiterated warnings to impose severe sanctions on those dragging their feet in the peace process. The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power was quoted by Reuters as saying,“(IGAD) are now sitting down with the parties and making (it) very clear that if this round of talks … do not succeed then IGAD and the (Security) Council are going to need to move out on these long-threatened sanctions.” This is the continuation of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort in June 2014 to persuade three of South Sudan’s immediate neighbours to impose tough penalties against the spoilers of the mediation process.

The Information and Broadcasting Minister Michael Makuei Lueth has reportedly expressed his dissatisfaction with the IGAD-mediation team. “We are appealing to the region and especially the Kenyan government. Kenya is the centre for everything here in the region. This is where our message should be carried from,” he is reported to have said. In August 2014, Ezekiel LolGatkuoth, former South Sudanese ambassador to the United States and top aide of Dr Riek Machar, criticised the IGAD for ‘legitimising Kiir’. In June 2014, the South Sudanese government threatened to withdraw from the IGAD mediation after the Executive Secretary of the IGAD, (Eng.) Mahboub Maalim, allegedly said that the warring parties were ‘stupid’ if they believed they could win militarily.

The only reason that has kept the warring factions in the negotiation process seems to be the fear of alienation and sanction across the region and the world. South Sudan, which receives a major part of its budget from international donors, is not expected to survive long without it. Lacking the type of party and state structure and popular anti-western social base that enabled the Sudanese and Eritrean regime to survive and sustain themselves under similar sanctions and international pressure, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the state would be unable to sustain similar levels of sanctions, if imposed. The state, which depends solely on oil revenue for financing the entire public service, faces a serious decline in its ability to exercise legitimate core functions, including the maintenance of law and order, and the operation of the armed forces (SPLA). This weakness constitutes a recipe for state failure in South Sudan.

On the other hand, if the anticipated sanctions that include asset freezes are imposed, the damage on the rebel’s side will also be fatal. As most of the finance is received from the Nuer diaspora and some other sympathisers abroad, there is no way the Machar group can afford a cut in its budget.

There is also a growing consensus that the mediation efforts should employ a fresh approach as present efforts have not delivered the anticipated result. The mediation has taken place in unfavourable circumstances with the requirement to adopt some imperfect positions and approaches, such as the inclusion of ethnic and religious representatives with the vision and commitment to transform themselves and their followers from a purely sectarian outlook to that of democratic citizenry. In this regard, a serious concern of the IGAD-led mediation process is the need to ensure the inclusivity of representatives of all communities, particularly those from peripheral areas located far away from the capital Juba. These include organisations that were disenfranchised even before the crisis erupted (mainly in the diaspora) and those who were displaced during and after the crisis.

Possible Way Out

The international community needs to continue exerting its utmost pressure on the warring parties. The pressure should also be imposed on regional countries that are directly involved in support of one group over the other. The unilateral involvement of certain countries to support one group over the other will drive South Sudan in particular and the region in general into a deeper political quagmire. The best way to resolve the South Sudan crisis is to form a transitional caretaker government, composed of individuals considered independent, but with popular legitimacy and professional integrity, to lead the country for a specified time period. The transitional government would be entrusted with the role of formulating a constitution and forming an electoral board. It also needs to envision a federalist state as the conflict is mainly along ethnic lines. This would ultimately require the exclusion of the two leaders of the warring factions from any state leadership position. Ensuring a transitional process that is insulated from undue influence of the warring groups like an independent transitional arrangement would create a level playing political field for all participants, including those outside the SPLM/A.

Given that legitimacy is now dispersed among many actors, including the incumbent, the rebel faction, the third bloc and other civil society organisations, mainly religious organs, this legitimate transitional process could unite all South Sudanese political actors. For the transitional process to enjoy popular legitimacy, it must be inclusive. The caretaker government must bring representatives of Internally Displaced People (IDP) and refugees as well as the diaspora together to participate in a constitutive national dialogue. Such an arrangement would ensure that stability and legitimacy can be pursued together, without sacrificing legitimacy for the sake of stability by allowing the powers that be to remain in power. This arrangement would ensure the comprehensive nature and sustainability of the peace agreement.

However, despite being most desirable, this scenario still remains the least probable, as it is mainly dependent on the political will of the warring parties, particularly their leaders. For the incumbent group and perhaps for the current president and the former vice president, personally, inclusivity may not lead to a happy ending. Companies and external forces may work against such an arrangement, as it may endanger existing financial and other interests.

Multiple Scenarios

A more pragmatic solution would be to work for a government of national unity. South Sudan can usher in a transitional Government of National Unity similar to that of Kenya and Zimbabwe where the ruling and opposition parties share power. As a result, these countries entered into relatively peaceful election processes.

A similar situation might occur in South Sudan. However, there is no strong judiciary in the country, as in Kenya, and to a limited extent in Zimbabwe. More essentially, the SPLA is not a professionally neutral and with a united army as in the case of the Kenyan armed forces. Despite many concerns surrounding the result of Kenya’s last election, the Kenyan armed forces remained neutral. The SPLA still remains an ideologically and ethnically politicised rebel army. Governments of national unity do not necessarily lead to democratic dispensations, but as experienced in Kenya and Zimbabwe, they are capable of delivering stability and reducing political violence.

A government of national unity composed of the warring groups of the SPLM is highly probable, given that a stable central government is vital in order to prevent further violence and total collapse of the South Sudanese state. While seeking the best scenario under a caretaker government, a government of national unity may simply be the best outcome that the IGAD-led mediation effort can deliver.

However, the continuation of the current situation where the incumbent SPLM group in government continues to stay in power is unacceptable. With such dispersed centres of legitimacy, the status quo is unsustainable unless the SPLM/A is reconstituted afresh. The root cause of the current crisis resides in the unwillingness of the SPLM/A to transform itself into a democratic political party fit to govern post-independent South Sudan. Thus, stability and democracy in South Sudan requires radical reform of the SPLM/A, or total replacement of the current system of governance by a constitutional democracy. The current government will be able to achieve popular legitimacy only if it embarks upon the democratic reconstruction of the governing structures of the SPLM/A and commences an inclusive, constitutive national dialogue process. The SPLM would perform an important service to the people of South Sudan if it succeeds in closing this chapter, revitalises the role of its collective leadership and decision-making and transforms itself into a popular, democratic movement that appeals to its political rivals and the general population with the simple message of unity and equality.

A specialist in human rights and humanitarian law, Dr Mehari Taddele Maru is an international consultant on African Union affairs, and an expert in Public Administration, Policy and Management. He is Adjunct Assistant Professor at Centre for Federal Studies, Addis Ababa University, and lectures at NATO Defense College (Italy), UN Institute for Economic Development and Planning (Senegal), the National Defense University (USA), and African Center for Strategic Studies (USA).

Abel Abate Demissie is presently serving as Senior Researcher at the Ethiopian International Institute for Peace and Development (EIIPD).The writers may be reached at abel.eiipd@gmail.com

Read Full Post »


Writing on the subject of sectarianism Dr. Abdelwahab El-Affendi writes: “…the politicisation of religion and its use to justify violence appears to be a dysfunctional response within dysfunctional systems. The phenomenon can be more accurately described as sectarianism to account for the multiple layers of intersecting and mutually reinforcing elements of identity in these conflicts. Sectarianism is a limited and limiting view of self and the world, where the group lives in a world of its own, separate from others”.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »


Dr.Jendayi Frazer, a sister who has a fantastic understanding of power politics.

Read Full Post »

porad N2

After I gave a Foreign and National Security Policy power point presentation to members of Nigerian Armed Forces Command and Staff college. It was an absolute delight to be with my brothers and sisters for an open discussion.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »

Middle East

In following situations in the Middle East, I am reminded of what Dr. Kissinger wrote in his book “World Order”. ” The most pressing threat to world order today is the descent of the Middle East in to a region wide sectarian conflict.”

Professor Mekonen Haddis

Read Full Post »

Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen by Michael Horton

Into the Abyss
Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen
Not long before the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, died in 1953, he is purported to have said, “the good or evil for us will come from Yemen.” With the commencement of air strikes on targets in Yemen, it is increasingly likely that the latter part of his prediction will come true. Nothing good—and certainly nothing decisive—will come from the Saudi led “Operation Decisive Storm.”
The Saudi intervention in Yemen—along with the Kingdom’s 2011 intervention in Bahrain—mark a significant departure from a foreign policy that has been historically characterized by caution, reluctance, and a reliance on proxies. In Bahrain, the Saudi effort to quell the Shi’a led rebellion was successful. However, Yemen could not be more different than Bahrain, which is a tiny nation with flat terrain and an unarmed population. In contrast, Yemen has one of the most heavily armed populations on the planet, terrain that is a guerrilla fighter’s dream, and a two thousand year history of resisting and repelling invaders.
In late 2009, Saudi Arabia launched a quiet but well-resourced campaign against the Houthis, who belong to the Zaidi sect of Shi’a Islam. At the time, the Houthis were locked in their sixth—and what proved to be final—war with former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government. In response to an attack launched by Houthi fighters on Saudi border guards, the Saudi government began operations against the Houthis. The Saudis deployed elements of their army, special forces, and air force. The campaign proved to be a disaster for the Saudis and resulted in a top level review of their army’s battle readiness. The Houthis, who were at that time poorly equipped and facing off against both Yemeni forces and Saudi forces, managed to capture at least one soldier from the elite Saudi Special Forces as well as specialized equipment. Over the course of 2009 and 2010, the Houthis fought both Yemeni and Saudi forces to a standstill.
Following 2010 and in the wake of the 2011 revolution that led to the resignation of President Saleh and the installation of his former vice president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, as president, the Houthis consolidated their hold on a large swath of northwestern Yemen. The Houthis expanded the territory under their control by building alliances with influential tribes and clans and by merit of being a relatively well-disciplined and capable fighting force. However, the installation of the ineffectual President Hadi helped enable the Houthis’ rapid expansion.
Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi was chosen by Yemen’s Machiavellian former president as his vice president for a reason: Hadi has no real power base in Yemen and thus could never pose a threat to Saleh or his family. Hadi is from south Yemen, which was an independent nation and wants to be one again. Many southerners still regard Hadi, who sided with Saleh and the north against the south in the 1994 civil war, as a traitor. At the same time, as a southerner, Hadi has little or no influence among Yemen’s powerful northern based tribes. Hadi was a brilliant choice for vice president by a man who intended to pass the presidency onto his son.
Now, the Saudi government, along with its GCC partners, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, and Jordan, has ostensibly launched ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ to reinstall Hadi who has fled Yemen for Saudi Arabia. The less than clearly articulated goal of the military campaign in Yemen is to reinstall the Hadi led government and to force the Houthis’ to lay down their arms and negotiate. It is unlikely that these goals will be achieved. Rather than eroding support for the Houthis, the Saudis and their partners’ actions in Yemen, may bolster short term support for the Houthis and former president Saleh who is now nominally allied with the Houthis. Most Yemenis are none too fond of the House of Saud and there are many Yemenis still alive who remember the Egyptians’ bloody and disastrous 1962-67 invasion of north Yemen which claimed the lives of twenty thousand Egyptian soldiers and thousands of Yemeni fighters and civilians.
“Operation Decisive Storm” will ensure that Yemen is pushed further along the path to all out civil war, that radical Islamist organizations like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and now the Islamic State (sworn enemies of the Houthis and all Shi’a Muslims) flourish, and that a humanitarian crisis ensues. More than half of Yemen’s children suffer from malnourishment, and, according to the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, 61% of Yemen’s population of 24 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. With the commencement of “Operation Decisive Storm” food prices, which were already rising due to a plummeting Yemeni riyal, are soaring as Yemenis—those few who can afford to do so—prepare for what could be months of war. The only thing increasing in price faster than food is ammunition and weaponry. Most Yemeni families in the north possess at a minimum an Ak-47 with many families and clans maintaining stores of weapons that include RPGs and grenades.
If the Saudis and their partners, especially the Egyptians, take the next step and begin a ground invasion, their forces will likely face withering resistance from both the Houthis and the new allies that they are sure to attract as a result of the invasion. In the mountain redoubts of northwest Yemen, songs and poems about how the Yemenis made the Turks, who twice invaded Yemen and failed to subdue it, bathe in their own blood are still sung and recited by the descendants of the men who fought off the Turks and then the Egyptians. The Saudi Army is ill prepared for anything beyond the most limited action in Yemen. Its Egyptian partners are similarly ill prepared and are currently struggling to contain a growing insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.
A ground invasion will tie up thousands of Saudi soldiers for what could be months or even years when the Kingdom must also worry about the threat of the Islamic State on its northern borders. It is also worth remembering that the Saudi Army employs a large contingent of soldiers who are ethnically Yemeni. It is an open question as to how these men may or may not respond when ordered to kill fellow Yemenis. At the same time that they are dealing with what will undoubtedly be a protracted and bloody war, the Saudi government will be forced to manage what could be tens of thousands of refugees pouring across its southern border from Yemen.
Military action in Yemen could well lead the House of Saud into the abyss that King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud may have had in mind before he made his prophetic warning.
Michael Horton

Read Full Post »