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This Week at ISN 2013-09-06

This Week at ISN 2013-09-06

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Published by ISN Zurich
Despite optimistic projections on its behalf, West Africa remains beset with problems. The region’s would-be hegemon, Nigeria, will have difficulty underwriting regional security until it can defeat – or co-opt – the insurgency in its North. In the case of Mali, the hard work of rebuilding a country still torn by age-old divisions must endure. Meanwhile, once-stable Burkina Faso faces the prospect of a destabilizing succession crisis, and the Gulf of Guinea is fast replacing the Horn of Africa as the center of maritime piracy. So, will West Africa surmount these obstacles and realize its supposedly bright future? Let’s see.
Despite optimistic projections on its behalf, West Africa remains beset with problems. The region’s would-be hegemon, Nigeria, will have difficulty underwriting regional security until it can defeat – or co-opt – the insurgency in its North. In the case of Mali, the hard work of rebuilding a country still torn by age-old divisions must endure. Meanwhile, once-stable Burkina Faso faces the prospect of a destabilizing succession crisis, and the Gulf of Guinea is fast replacing the Horn of Africa as the center of maritime piracy. So, will West Africa surmount these obstacles and realize its supposedly bright future? Let’s see.

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ISN ETH Zurich
International Relations and Security Network    www.isn.ethz.ch  ///   

This Week at ISN
02 – 06 September 2013

Our Weekly Editorial Roundup
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//   West Africa: Issues in Focus
Despite optimistic projections on its behalf, West Africa remains beset with problems. The region's would-be hegemon, Nigeria, will have difficulty underwriting regional security until it can defeat – or co-opt – the insurgency in its North. In the case of Mali, the hard work of rebuilding a country still torn by age-old divisions must endure. Meanwhile, once-stable Burkina Faso faces the prospect of a destabilizing succession crisis, and the Gulf of Guinea is fast replacing the Horn of   Africa as the center of maritime piracy. So, will West Africa surmount these obstacles and realize its supposedly bright future? Let's see.

Escaping Nigeria's Cycle of Violence
02 September 2013

Nigeria's struggle with Boko Haram continues to undermine the country's economic and political stability. Aided by the CFR's Nigeria Security Tracker, John Campbell profiles the situation and argues that Abuja should tackle the problem through political means, including greater autonomy for the North, rather than more violence.  » More

Mali's Challenges Post- French Intervention
03 September 2013

Despite the successful French intervention in Mali, putting the country back together remains a significant challenge, reports Anouar Boukhars. This is because the original roots of the conflict run deep, which means that unifying the country will require widespread dialogue and international assistance. » More

Burkina Faso: With or Without Compaoré, Times of Uncertainty
04 September 2013

While President Compaoré is barred from participating in Burkina Faso's elections in 2015, it's uncertain whether he will facilitate a peaceful and democratic transfer of power or not. According to the ICG, he should.  » More

Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea
05 September 2013

Maritime piracy, oil-bunkering, drug trafficking and illegal fishing are all growing problems in the Gulf of Guinea. Adjoa Anyimadu believes that prompt action is needed to counter these threats – preferably before the elections that are scheduled for most of West Africa in 2015.  » More

West Africa: Bright Future?
06 September 2013

Despite 'empowerment initiatives', the positive impact of new technologies, and the resilience of the region's people, Jennifer Giroux believes West Africa faces an uncertain future. A potentially divided Nigeria, a variety of transnational threats and an overdependence on extractive industries are three reasons why. » More

//   Security Watch
The Asian-North Atlantic Race for Greenland
02 September 2013

Greenland is using the bargaining power of its natural resources and shipping routes with increasing self-confidence, especially with East Asian nations. Jan Nalakowski believes that if the West wants to stay in the game, it should readjust its attitudes towards the island and entice it with economic incentives. » More

The Perils of Rising Religious Fundamentalism in the Maldives
03 September 2013

The expansion of radical Islam across the Maldives has been accompanied by the gradual introduction of Sharia law. Djan Sauerborn believes that there is even worse to come, especially as youths sent to overseas Madrasas return home and further undermine the islands' democratic credentials. » More

Questioning the Crowd - Data Verification Challenges for Humanitarians
04 September 2013

While crowd-sourcing is widely lauded as an increasingly effective approach to information gathering, it still has its limitations. Today, IRIN considers some of the challenges associated with gathering reliable and verifiable data in complex emergency situations. » More

Saudi Arabia's Looming Security Challenges
05 September 2013

Saudi Arabia has long looked to the US as a major guarantor of its security. However, the fundamental dynamics of this partnership are set to change. Samir Tata considers some of the threats that Saudi Arabia is likely to face in the future and how it may choose to respond to them. » More

Women Terrorists Today Follow Men's Ideologies: Interview With Mia Bloom
06 September 2013

The leader of Hezbollah recently reiterated that women can be suicide bombers but not elected leaders. Mia Bloom is not surprised by this statement. In today's interview, she explains why women make great 'shells for bombs' but are not part of the leadership of terrorist organizations. » More

//   Blog
Mediation Perspectives: How to Prevent the Clash of Narratives from Undermining Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks
02 September 2013

Despite the best efforts of external actors – not to mention both sides' occasional 'willingness' to talk - the IsraelPalestine conflict remains as intractable as ever. Today, Natasha Gill outlines several steps that third party mediators may want to consider for future negotiation rounds. » More

Why Australia Wants the UK to Stay in the EU
03 September 2013

Back in the 1970s, Australia waffled over what impact the United Kingdom's membership in the EEC would have on their economic relations. Not any more, says Edward Mortimer. This time around, Canberra has no doubts that a British withdrawal from the EU will sap the vitality of Australia's economy. » More

How To 'Do' Economic Development in Conflict-Affected Contexts
04 September 2013

Once a conflict has ended and humanitarian agencies leave, how do you then feed people, safeguard livelihoods and improve access to markets? The answer, according to Patricia Justino, lies in the institutional changes that take place during the violence. » More

Gulf States Under Pressure
05 September 2013

The leaders of the Gulf States continue to hope that the turmoil caused by the Arab uprisings will curb their wealthier citizens' enthusiasm for political reform. Jane Kinninmont thinks that it might be too late. A new generation of welleducated and reform-minded Gulf nationals has already emerged. » More

Pragmatism, Fear and Geopolitics: Why Moscow Still Backs Assad
06 September 2013

Russia's continued support for Bashar al-Assad is not necessarily about arms transfers, the port of Tartus or Vladimir Putin's natural affinity with dictators, writes Mark Galleotti. Instead, Moscow is more concerned about what might happen in Syria after a US-led attack against the regime takes place. » More

//   Video
Ambassador Lewis Lukens at Countering Violent Extremism in the Sahel
In this video, Lewis Lukens, who is the US Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, opens an ACSS workshop on countering extremism by discussing the growth of terrorist activities in West Africa's Sahel region. » More

Security, a Field Left Fallow
In this video, Didier Bigo discusses Michel Foucault's "Security, Territory, Population", which were an important series of lectures the thinker gave at the Collège de France between 1977 and 1978. The lectures marked a major turning point in Foucault's thinking about power. » More

Supporting Peace in Senegal: The Casamance Peace Initiative
In this video, four experts discuss the US's possible role in ending the 30-year conflict that has festered in Senegal's Casamance region. The March 2012 election of President Sall has opened a new opportunity for peace, but the complex relationships that exist between key actors, among other factors, leave this opportunity in doubt. » More

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Next week our editorial focus examines security dynamics in eastern Africa.

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