Written by Anis Bajrektarevic and Giuliano Luongo
“For the past few centuries, Africa lived fear but dreamt a hope of Europeans …From WWI to www.” In this one short statement is the essence of the 6th book on geopolitics of prof. Anis Bajrektarevic: ‘Europe and Africa’ just released by the US publisher NOVA. This time professor is co-signing book with his junior researcher from Italy, Guliano Luongo, who is a Director of Africanistic studies at the Rome-based Institute for Geopolitics (IsAG).
The book combines in a unique way both the past and the presence of two continents, which are quite different – in almost every aspect – now, but which were deeply interconnected during the colonial past – with Europe influencing Africa and Africa planting the seeds of influence on Europe that will be unveiled many years after.
The book concentrates on security structures of both the ‘Old’ and ‘Forgotten’ continent, trying to answer the question why Europe is multilateral and Africa still bilateral in this field. To this end, Prof. Anis and his coauthor dive into the historical experiences and look in them for causes of today’s developments, and future prospects of Afro-Med and Euro-Med.
Special emphasis is put on integration processes in Europe and Africa and the reasons why Africa is far away from its own pan-continental organization (despite the current state of the EU and several attempts to put into life something similar to the EU in Africa). Asian security structures and the reasons why they are asymmetric, did not escape the focus of prof. Anis and Giuliano, although they are primarily dealing with Europe and Africa, always searching – with good reason – for the roots of today’s situation in the European past, and its footprint on Afro-Asian soil.
The central message of the book is formulated in the following quotation: “For a serious advancement of multilateralism, mutual trust, a will to compromise and achieve a common denominator through active co-existence is the key. It is hard to build a common course of action around the disproportionately big and centrally positioned member which would escape the interpretation as containment by the big or assertiveness of its center by the smaller, peripheral members.”
Sometimes, big means populous and young; the world’s 10 youngest populations are all in Africa, a continent with a 40% of people under age of 15. And their future is not waiting, but brewing. Better than anything else the authors formulate their ‘philosophy’ in the sentence: “Our history warns. Nevertheless, it also provides a hope.”
Hope is based on knowledge. And whoever wants to seek and grasp, should read the book ‘Europe and Africa’. It explains not only what happened in the past, but also what and why is happening today. And this is why this book is ‘much needed’ for our common Future of History.
Few other endorsements:
Dr. Walter Schwimmer, former Secretary General of the Council of Europe (1999-2004)
We all are Africans. Anis Bajrektarevic and his coauthor see in security, peace and democratic stability the key to the solution not only of Africa’s problems but also of improving the relations between Europe and Africa.
Dr. Franz Fischler, EU Commissioner (1995–04), President of the European Forum Apbach
Africa is the future continent. For all that security is key. The book of prof. Anis and Guiliano will help to understand better the security structures of Europe and Africa and can form a base for improvements in the interrelations between these two diverse continents.
Prof. dr. Ernest Petrič, ambassador and former President of Constitutional Court of Slovenia
Concise but comprehensive books on Africa are rather rare. Those, unbiased, fair and timely are even rarer. Therefore, this book is a much-needed reader; for scholars and practitioners, be it Europeans interested in Africa, Africans interested in Europe or those seeking beyond.
Prof. Dr Bruce Hearn, University of Sussex
I commend the authors on presenting an otherwise dauntingly complex political and security situation across the continent of Africa in a straightforward and easy to comprehend way. This work makes a truly insightful read for public policy practitioners, political scientists and those with an interest in development alike.
Dr. Dr. Emanuel L. Paparella (Yale University) Professor of philosophy at Barry University
This is the kind of book that needs to be read and pondered, discussed and debated carefully and seriously. It that is done, it may well clarify quite a few unsolved geo-political puzzles of the bizarre and confusing times in which we live and have our being.
Dr. Ilham A. Habibie, Chairman, Institute of Democracy through Science & Technology, The Habibie Center, Jakarta, Indonesia
From the cradle of civilization to the planetary underachiever: The pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Africa and its interaction with Europeans – all that prof. Anis and his coauthor analyze in a brilliant and interesting way.
I highly recommend this book as a must-read literature giving valuable information for all of us, particularly the ones who are interested in the underlying reasons for many problems that we see on both continents, which are today very actual looking at hotspots such as refugee crisis and terrorism.
Cheng Yu Chin, Director, EU-China Economics and Politics Institute
Excellent news – with this book – for those who argue that European multilateralism is a right solution to manage Africa out of a lasting crisis. This fascinating comparative read further navigates those of academia and practitioners who want to steer us towards stabile Europe and prosperous Euro-MED.
Prof. Rejane Pinto Costa, PhD Brazilian War College
A brilliant piece of work! The authors were able to take a challenging subject and turn it into a compelling read that I recommend to all who are interested in such an intriguing subject.
Slavko Kulić, prof.dr.sc. IOM, St Catherine Oxford, Institute on World Problems for Europe
Europe needs new models of articulation. From vertical hierarchies, the European world of preponderance today must rethink the new horizontal organization in sociology of international relations. Authors of this book are bravely, clearly and repeatedly pointing this out.
Elvis Adjei, Professor of Financial Economics & Regional Director – Africa University of Ghana, Accra
Anis and Giuliano skillfully guide the reader through the threshold concepts that reveal the historical perspectives of institutions with deep resonance for security structures in Africa and Europe.
An outstanding book that is guaranteed to be of interest to faculty and students. It provides a major contribution to security issues that would undoubtedly be a valuable resource to historians as well as national and international security professionals of both continents and well beyond.
Prof. Alexander Zistakis, PhD (University of Athens)
By skillfully contrasting and comparing the ‘forgotten’ with an ‘old’ continent, the authors have accomplished a real feat. For scholars dealing with the geopolitics of Africa and Eurasia this will be a must read for many years to come.
Europe and Africa – Similarities and difference in Security Structures Written by Anis Bajrektarevic and Giuliano Luongo NOVA Publishers
Fuelling peace through dialogue over natural resources in Sudan’s West Kordofan
Niematian village in Al-Muglad area of West Kordofan State shares many similarities with other neighbouring villages and towns in the province, where crop-farming, grazing and small-scale trade are the mainstays of the local economy.
Pastoralists of West Kordofan were greatly affected by the 2011 secession of South Sudan, which hindered them from crossing the border as they had done previously in search of pasture and water for their herds.
This has led to concentration of livestock in the already fragile grazing areas in the state, overgrazing around permanent water points and potential conflict with farmers, spread of diseases and livestock death.
Niematian has also experienced a considerable population increase, arising mainly from displaced communities from the Hamar tribe, in the state’s North Babanusa area, and Dinka refugees from South Sudan and the disputed region of Abyei.
This rapid population growth, coupled with failing environmental governance structures, has fuelled environmental degradation. It has also spurred tensions and conflict over land, which on many occasions have resulted in violence.
Between June 2015 and August 2018, UN Environment, with funding from the European Union, implemented the Promoting Peace Over Natural Resources in Darfur and Kordofan project. The project aimed to improve the capacity to resolve resource-based conflicts and to manage natural resources more sustainably and equitably.
The 39-month project was implemented across five areas in West Darfur (Kerenik and Mornie), Central Darfur (Azum) and West Kordofan (Muglad and Babanusa). It was delivered in partnership with two national non-governmental organizations: the Darfur Development and Reconstruction Agency (DDRA) in West and Central Darfur, and SOS Sahel Sudan (SOS Sahel) in West Kordofan.
In 2016, there was an unprecedented situation in Niematian village after farmers expanded their agricultural fields and encroached agreed migratory routes, thus denying pastoralists access to water for themselves and their livestock.
However, thanks to a local reconciliation committee, the dispute was managed and the tension diffused in a thoughtful and reliable way.
“To prevent similar conflicts in future, a peace forum was held in Niematian village January 2017 with the support of SOS Sahel. Community and tribal leaders briefed communities on the forum’s objective and invited five members from each of the 18 sub-villages along the central migratory route to participate in the peace forum,” says Atila Uras, UN Environment’s Sudan Country Programme Manager.
The local administration brought together leaders of the tribes in conflict to not only jointly identify violations but to also explore ways to strengthen relations between them.
The Niematian reconciliation committee, which comprised local leaders from the Dinka, Hamar and Misseriya tribes, continues to resolve conflicts over land use in accordance with customary law.
Furthermore, through a seasonal agricultural committee, which is activated during the rainy season, the tribal leaders in Niematian have been implementing the taleg, traditional rules and customs, to allow free access to crop residue by pastoralists after the collection of harvest by farmers.
“As a result of the forum, and the consequent dialogue, we witnessed a 60 per cent reduction in conflict,” says Bashtanah Mohamed Salim, a local leader from the Misseriya tribe who played a key role in establishing the Niematian peace forum in 2017.
Thanks to the project, conflict resolution training was provided to both local government officials and tribal leaders in all the three states.
In West Kordofan State, the training was delivered in collaboration with the Peace and Development Studies Centre in the state capital Al Fula. It provided tailored guidance on conflict analysis, carrying out risk assessments to intervene prior to conflict, and communications and mediations skills.
In 2008, cognizant of the need to make resource scarcity and competition a platform for cooperation rather than conflict, UN Environment established its Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding programme. The initiative seeks to address critical knowledge gaps on the role of natural resources in identifying conflict risks and peacebuilding opportunities.
Between 2009 and 2015, the programme co-generated 150 original peer-reviewed case studies by 225 experts and practitioners, covering 12 natural resource sectors across 60 conflict-affected countries. It also provided technical analysis and environmental diplomacy support to Western Sahara, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Papua New Guinea, the Sahel region, Sudan and Nigeria to address ongoing or potential resource disputes. In February 2015, the United Nations Department of Political Affairs and UN Environment jointly published Natural Resources and Conflict: A guide for mediation practitioners.
UN Environment has also, in collaboration with the Environmental Law Institute, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Duke University and the University of California at Irvine, developed a groundbreaking massive open online course on environmental security and sustaining peace.
Russia wants to bolster economic ties with Lesotho
In southern Russian city Sochi, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Lesego Makgothi, held wide-ranging diplomatic talks mid-February to understand deeply how to continue to build upon relations in numerous areas especially economic cooperation.
Makgothi, who has been Minister since 2017, made his first official trip to Moscow.
According to the official media release, Lavrov and Makgothi exchanged views on important global and regional issues, including Russia’s participation in international efforts to resolve conflicts and crises in Africa and some ways to ensure sustainable socioeconomic development of the continent.
They noted a desire to expand these relations in all areas, beginning with the political dialogue and then cooperation within international organizations, as well as in trade and economic, cultural and humanitarian areas.
During the discussion, both noted geological prospecting, mining and the energy industry as promising areas. The economy is based on agriculture, livestock, manufacturing and mining. Water and diamonds are its significant natural resources.
Both ministers also focused on cooperation in education exchanges. Russia has expanded the quota by five times for students from Lesotho. This will make it possible to meet the interests of Lesotho and to train specialists in healthcare, meteorology and mining starting next academic year, 2019/20.
There was also the possibility of sending law enforcement officers to study in advanced training courses at the educational institutions under the Russian Interior Ministry.
Lavrov informed that an inter-parliamentary Russian-African conference has been scheduled to take place later this year, and Russia would host a general meeting of the African Export-Import Bank’s shareholders.
Lavrov and Makgothi believed that this would make it possible to considerably raise the level of cooperation and to chart specific ways of further enriching Russia’s relations with Africa. He invited Makgothi to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum scheduled for June.
In general, Lavrov and Makgothi advocated for greater cooperation between Russia and the African countries in all areas, primarily within the context of a proposal put forward by President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, at the BRICS summit in July 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Lesotho’s geographic location, the southernmost landlocked country in the world and is entirely surrounded by South Africa, makes it extremely vulnerable to political and economic developments in South Africa.
Relations between the two countries were established soon after Lesotho gained independence in 1966. Lesotho, with about 2.5 million population, is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
‘Endemic’ sexual violence surging in South Sudan
A surge in sexual violence in South Sudan’s Unity state targeting victims as young as eight years old, has prompted a call from the UN human rights office, OHCHR, for urgent Government measures to protect victims, and bring perpetrators to justice.
Despite the signing of a peace deal between belligerents last September, UN investigators found that at least 175 women and girls have been raped or suffered other sexual and physical violence between September and December 2018.
The actual level of violence is likely to be considerably higher, OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told journalists in Geneva on Friday.
“Obviously (it is) not the whole picture, but they found 175, women and girls who had been either raped, gang-raped or sexually assaulted or physically harmed in other ways,” he said. “And 49 of those girls who were raped, were children.”
Nonetheless, it warns that such incidents are “endemic” in northern Unity state, on the border with Sudan, creating a sense among communities that it is normal to be a victim of sexual violence.
Victim’s testimony recalls recurring attacks
Citing the testimony of one victim, Mr. Colville explained that many women are raped while fetching firewood, food or water – often more than once – as they lack any protection.
“She said, ‘If we go by the main road we are raped, if we go by the bush, we are raped. I was raped among others in the same area repeatedly on three separate occasions.”
The surge in conflict-related sexual violence is attributed to many factors including the breakdown in the rule of law, the destruction of livelihoods, forced displacement and food insecurity, after years of civil war.
Large numbers of armed young men, a ‘toxic mix’
But one of the main reasons is the large number of fighters in the area, who have yet to be reintegrated into the national army, according to the peace deal.
Most of the attacks are reported to have been carried out by youth militia groups and elements of the pro-Taban Deng Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition, SPLA-IO (TD), as well as South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF).
In a few cases, attacks were perpetrated by members of the group affiliated with reinstated Vice President and peace deal participant, Riek Machar, Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO (RM), the UN report says.
“Particularly in this area, there are essentially three main groups who…are involved in these rapes, including the National Government force,” said Mr. Colville. “And a lot of these young men who are heavily armed, are just waiting around…This is a very toxic mix, and there are also youth militia which some of these official groups ally with and you don’t know exactly who they are; they’ve been heavily involved as well.”
Rule of law ‘just not applied’
A key challenge is tackling the prevailing impunity throughout Unity state, which is linked to the volatility of the situation across the country, OHCHR maintains.
“There’s been very little accountability in South Sudan for what is chronic, endemic problem of sexual violence against women and girls,” Mr. Colville said. “Virtually complete impunity over the years, as a result, very little disincentive for these men not to do what they’re doing. The rule of law has just not been applied.”
Mobile courts provide glimmer of hope for victims
Among the practical measures taken to a bid to help vulnerable communities in Unity state, UNMISS has cleared roadsides to prevent attackers from hiding from potential victims.
A mobile court system is also operational in towns, including Bentiu, which has had “some success” in bringing perpetrators to trial, OHCHR’s Mr. Colville said, noting nonetheless that “this is just a drop in the ocean”.
“There are thousands and thousands of perpetrators, there are officers involved, there are commanders who’ve got command responsibility who instead of being investigated and brought to book…have been promoted, and are still in charge of groups operating in this area who are still raping women,” he concluded.
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