The Democratic Republic of Congo: Hurdle After Hurdle

On the 17th of May 2017 over 4,000 inmates broke out of Makala prison in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), while 70 convicts fled from another prison in south-western DRC a few days later. In the preceding months, the European Union and the United States imposed targeted sanctions, both asset freezes and travel restrictions, on senior Congolese security and intelligence officials, after government violence against civilian protests. An additional nine Congolese officials were then sanctioned on the 29th May 2017 for obstructing the elections and for human rights violations.

With prison breaks, government violence, kidnappings, mass atrocities, human rights violations, a powder keg of disgruntled citizens and suspicions that the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) may have been involved in the killing of two United Nations (UN) investigators just a month ago, it is not surprising that current and prospective investors are fearful of how the situation in the country could develop. Instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo has become the norm rather than the exception. Recent insecurity has centred on delayed elections – which were due to take place in November 2016 – following President Joseph Kabila’s unwillingness to step down after reaching the constitutional limit.

Aid and Violence in Kashmir

The violence in Kashmir is one of the longest-running and unresolved disputes in contemporary times. It is also at the centre of a nuclear flash point between two arch rivals – India and Pakistan. Both powers have engaged in three wars before nuclear acquisition (1947, 1965, 1971), as well as several military skirmishes (1999, 2001-2002). Relations between the two states are acrimonious at best.  Much of the hostility stems from unfettered terrorist activity in the region that is at times openly backed by Islamabad as means to undermine Indian hegemony. The September 2016 terrorist attacks in Uri attest to this reality, the consequences of which have virtually severed relations between the two states.

Adama Barrow’s New Presidency | Gambia Risk Report: A New Dawn?

On 1st December 2016, Gambia had what some might call its first “real” presidential election. A strong and united group of opposition parties, led by Adama Barrow, was able to defeat the incumbent autocrat, Yahya Jammeh, who had sat in power since 1994. While initially accepting the results, Jammeh would change face and dispute the results, triggering a constitutional crisis that was only thwarted following military and political pressure from several countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The result was cheered by international commentators and Gambians alike. The result was of particular significance for those Gambians who had fled to Europe during the past 20 years in an attempt to flee persecution under Jammeh’s rule. Many see Barrow’s victory as a critical juncture in Gambia’s future.

Aid channels that had been previously shut during the last few years of Jammeh’s rule – either by the humanitarian organisations of Jammeh himself – have slowly started to reopen. Political prisoners have been released from jails, and press freedoms have been greatly increased.

Latin American and European Populism: Expanding Horizons

Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have provided a rude awakening for many in Europe who had ignored the challenge of populism. As Europe braces itself for what will likely be a tumultuous future, considering other sources of valuable experience will become paramount.

In The Economist, Bello has recently pointed out the familiarity to Latin Americans of the type of populist nationalism espoused by the likes of Trump, with current techniques and narratives pulled straight from the “Latin American Manual”. However, and despite its rich populist history, the Latin American experience has often been overlooked. Those wishing to understand and counter in Europe and elsewhere would be wise to consider it.

Three lessons stand out. First, Latin America exemplifies the issues of a simplistic understanding of populism. Second, the region shows populism is persistent and more often than not has damaging consequences. Finally, Latin America has vast experience with post-truth politics, and confronting populism is impossible without tackling the post-truth politics that underpin it.

Iranian Election: Succession Primer

In the short, 38-year history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, not a single incumbent president has lost a reelection campaign. Well, of the six presidents that have won an Iranian election and thus presided over the Islamic republic, one was impeached and another assassinated. Ignoring those unlucky two, the slim legacy of the remaining four presidents may gain another to its ranks. On May 19th, Iranians will head to the polls to decide the future direction of a country that stands at a crossroad, with the incumbent president and moderate Hassan Rouhani fighting off a challenge from a ‘Principalist‘ candidate, Ebrahim Raisi . Most recently polled at 42%, Rouhani must achieve at least 50% of the vote, or else he faces a May 26th runoff. Ultimately, the future Iranian president will wield considerable influence in the shaping of foreign policy, the domestic economy, and the succession of the Supreme Leader.

Thoughts on the French Election: Preserving the Le Pen Family Legacy of Losing

With the first round of the French presidential election now complete, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are headed to a runoff vote on Sunday in the next stage of a contentious election cycle. The first round provided unsurprising results, with polls remarkably close to the outcomes seen in April. If such polling remains accurate, especially in light of Macron’s debate performance on Wednesday, the En Marche! candidate may soon take the mantle of the French Presidency by a 60% margin. Regardless, there are a number of important caveats that could spoil Macron’s lead.

It is without a doubt, however, that Le Pen will surely lose the election. The odds are increasingly stacked against her, as various party leaders have recently come out in opposition to her candidacy. Following their concessions in the first round, the Republican candidate Francois Fillon and the Socialist party’s Benoit Hamon both endorsed Macron for the presidency, adding to a support base that already includes the current French President Francois Hollande. The Communist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who earned 19.6% of the first round vote, refused to endorse Macron but nevertheless urged his supporters to vote against Le Pen and her National Front party. Only Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the leader of the Rise France party who earned 4.7% of the first round vote, has endorsed Le Pen from amongst the ranks of the losing candidates.

Risk Report | Nigeria: The economic and security implications of the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta.

Situating the Militancy

Located on Africa’s Western coast on the Gulf of Guinea and with an estimated population of 183 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Over the years, Nigeria has also emerged as Africa’s largest economy, with a GDP worth $481.07 billion in 2015. Even when ranked against other African resource-rich countries, Nigeria stands out as the leading economy on the African continent. Egypt’s GDP – despite the fact that the country is the second-largest African economy and natural gas producer – it does not exceed the threshold of $400 billion. Likewise, Angola – that led the African oil producing countries well above Nigeria in the first half of 2016 –  has a GDP worth only $102.96 billion, less than a third of Nigeria’s. Historically, the risk within Nigeria’s economic growth, has been that income and revenues have been tied to the exploitation of its resource-rich soil, with the oil and natural gas industry primarily located in the southern Niger Delta region.  Since crude oil was first discovered in 1956 in Oloibiri, in the South-Eastern Bayelsa state, the Niger Delta region has played a crucial role in the economics, politics and security of Nigeria. This has cultivated the conditions necessary for the emergence of the so-called politics of oil. A common practice of governance shared by other oil-rich countries across Africa. For Nigeria, this means that oil and natural gas revenues are the mainstays of its economy, accounting for roughly 70% of the Nigerian government’s income and 90% of foreign exchange earnings.

Know Thy Enemy, Know Thy Self: Realities and Limitations of Critical Infrastructure Cyber Security

Critical national infrastructure (CNI) is an umbrella term representing various service industries essential to national function (Telecommunication), survival (Energy/Power), and social wellbeing (Medical). Responding to increasing national demands, more CNIs are joining the digital revolution to streamline operations and enhance productivity. However, despite the adoption of intelligent automation, we are still seeing a growing rate of malicious breaches amongst these enterprises. In a rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape, our business-driven culture only serves to degrade the broader security wellbeing. It is thus imperative for corporate CNI decision makers to understand the realities and limitations facing their facilities.

Nature Abhors a Vacuum: The Next Stage in Post-Conflict Colombia

The peace treaty between the Colombian Government and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia(FARC) has now been signed, officially bringing an end to a conflict that has persisted for decades. It is a great achievement that is supported by the UN. However, post-conflict Colombia has two major issues that must be addressed in order for the new treaty to have a positive effect on security in the country. FARC’s ‘demobilisation’ has led to large areas of the countryside suddenly facing a power vacuum that, if not filled by the Colombian government, will be susceptible to the threat of neo-paramilitary squads and vigilantism. The second issue is the behaviour of the military against the civilian population, most notably those within the countryside. There needs to be a willing transition within the Government security forces to act justly towards the civilian population, following a long period of aggressive tactics. The rule of law needs to be implemented within the country now more than ever to ensure the peace accords can deliver on their promises and finally bring peace to Colombia.

Part I: Examining the Threat of Right-Wing Extremism | The United States

The spectre of right-wing extremism is no stranger to most Americans. From Dylann Roof’s massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church to the Oklahoma City bombing, right-wing extremism has a long history of violence. However, the concept of right-wing extremism itself is a rather controversial topic in the US, one that is often overshadowed and downplayed. It was Republicans who decried a 2009 Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism as an unfair characterisation of veterans and the political right. Any discussion on the matter is immediately classified as a political attack against conservatism, derailing any meaningful insight into the potential threat and prevalence of this extremist thought.