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January 7, 2020

Iran
Death of Iranian General Soleimani Provokes Muted Reaction in Africa’s Giants

Nigeria and South Africa are the giants of Africa, with the two largest economies on the continent.  Both have had long-term relationships with Iran, though South Africa’s has been the closer. Thus far, the official reaction to Soleimani’s death from Nigeria and South Africa has been muted or non-existent, reflecting caution. Though the Nigerian inspector general of police has put his forces on “red alert,” likely fearing action by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) or other alleged Iranian proxies, there has been no apparent word from the government. In South Africa, the fiercest reaction came from the African National Congress (ANC), while Naledi Pandor, the South African foreign minister, called for calm.

Women hold pictures of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, who was killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, during a funeral procession and burial at his hometown in Kerman, Iran, on January 7, 2020.

January 24, 2020

Nigeria
Facing Rising Insecurity, Southwest Governors in Nigeria Launch Policing Initiative

In southwest Nigeria (Yorubaland), the location of Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, there has been a dramatic upsurge in kidnapping, house invasions, and robbery. On January 9, the governors of the six states in the region announced the establishment of Operation Amotekun (“leopard” in the Yoruba language).

Three armed police officers stand in front of the Novare Shoprite Mall in Lekki, near Lagos, Nigeria, after it was looted, on September 3, 2019.

April 10, 2020

China
Mapping China’s Health Silk Road

As part of its effort to position itself as a global health leader in the COVID-19 pandemic, China has resurrected the “Health Silk Road” moniker, suggesting that the concept may take on new importance.

An airport worker is seen as a Chinese plane arrives with medical workers and supplies donated from China to Cambodia.

November 21, 2019

Nigeria
Abacha, Abiola, and Nigeria’s 1999 Transition to Civilian Rule

The 1999 transition of Nigeria from military to civilian, democratic government, is a defining moment in Nigerian history, representing the beginning of the longest, uninterrupted government since independence in 1960. But what exactly transpired during the period of transition, which began in earnest with the death of military dictator Sani Abacha in1998, is not entirely clear. Max Siollun, in a fascinating study of the period, Nigeria’s Soldiers of Fortune, has done us a service by illuminating some of the behind-the-scenes machinations of that period, and putting to bed some of the rumors that passed for history.

A supporter of Chief Mashood Abiola holds up a newpaper during a demonstration outside the family home July 10 to protest about the suspicious nature of his death.

November 13, 2019

Nigeria
Nigerian Police Use Live Ammunition Against Peaceful Demonstrators

Nigerian media is reporting that on November 12, the Nigerian police fired live bullets to disperse those protesting the continued imprisonment of Nigerian journalist Omeyele Sowore. The media descri…

Protestors facing police hold signs that read "DSS Obey The Court," and other things.

March 17, 2020

Coronavirus
Coronavirus Crises Loom in Africa as Cases Spread

The Associated Press reported on Monday that thirty of fifty-four countries in Africa have reported the presence of COVID-19, and the list is likely incomplete. The virus had been slower to appear in Africa than in most other regions of the world. As elsewhere, the coronavirus was usually introduced by travelers from other continents, notably Europe. All of South Africa’s sixty-two cases, as of Monday, were from abroad, according to the health ministry.

A worker wearing tan clothes and a blue medical mask walks outside the coronavirus isolation facility at the Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 15, 2020.

December 23, 2014

China
Where to Look for the Next Jack Ma?

Where to look for the next Jack Ma? This is a trillion dollar question. According to a document released by the State Council (China’s cabinet) last October, by 2020 the size of China’s health servic…

Jack.Ma

January 8, 2020

Election 2020
The President's Inbox: The Killing of Qasem Soleimani

Each week between now and the Iowa caucuses, I’m talking with experts with differing views on how the United States should handle a foreign policy challenge it faces. These special episodes are part …

Debris burns outside Baghdad International Airport where a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and seven others on January 3. Iraqi Security Media Cell via Reuters

December 20, 2019

Election 2020
Campaign Foreign Policy Roundup: The Sixth Democratic Debate

Each Friday, I look at what the presidential challengers are saying about foreign policy. This week: the Democratic debate, financial corruption, and progressive foreign policy.

Senator Bernie Sanders listens to Senator Amy Klobuchar speak at the Democratic presidential debate on December 19.

September 19, 2019

Nigeria
More Shiite Processions Met With Bloodshed in Nigeria

On September 10, members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), a Shia religious and political movement, marched in different cities across the north of Nigeria to mark the beginning of Ashura, a major Muslim holiday and fasting period. In doing so, they defied the government, which, in July, had banned the group. The IMN later claimed that fifteen of their members had been killed after police opened fire on the various IMN processions. The police denied the claim.

Protesters sit and hold posters that say "Buhari Free Zakzaky."