AFRICOM and the “Whale of Government” Approach? [Updated]

Ok, maybe it’s tilapia instead of whale, but I thought this blog post from AFRICOM public affairs was worth a look:

By Dace Mahanay, Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University graduate student

Note: Dace Mahanay is currently interning with the Borlaug Institute on an AFRICOM agriculture project in Kisangani, DRC. He is sending periodic blogs detailing the project’s progress.

At Camp Base, just outside of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture continues to work with Agriculture Company (AgCo), a company of Congolese soldiers (Forces Armes de la Republique Democratique du Congo, widely known as FARDC), in an effort to provide sustainable methods of food production for the training center and U.S.-trained light infantry battalion. From fish farming to the cultivation of cassava, the needs of soldiers are being met in a sustainable way that is positive for the future of Camp Base and the community of Kisangani as a whole.

The last few weeks have been an exciting time for the agricultural project. A fish farming expert from the U.S. visited the project and provided valuable recommendations for increased production of tilapia and African catfish. The first batch of harvestable tilapia will be ready in the next couple of months and will be an excellent source of protein for FARDC soldiers.

The President’s new development policy invokes a “whole of government” approach, and I did learn last week about some encouraging specifics in coordination, such as the fact that the MCC has, for the first time, executed an actual Memorandum of Understanding with USAID. Nonetheless, if AFRICOM as a military combatant command, is going to be leading agricultural projects in places where we are not openly militarily engaged except in “permanent” and ongoing training and related activities, what are the lines between civilian and military? Between defense/security/diplomacy and development/agriculture assistance?

It sounds like a great program from an agricultural standpoint. Also sounds like it gets into areas that could involve unintended consequences if all the local circumstances are not well understood.

Update: Here is a story raising the issue of reports of rape and murder by the Congolese army:

Government troops are raping, killing and robbing civilians in the same area of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where militias carried out mass rapes more than two months ago, a top United Nations envoy said.

Margot Wallstrom, who is responsible for UN efforts to combat sexual violence in conflict, told the Security Council that UN peacekeepers have received reports of rapes, killings and looting by government soldiers.

“The possibility that the same communities who were brutalised in July and August by FDLR and Mai Mai elements are now also suffering [at the hands of the army] is unimaginable and unacceptable,” she said, referring to the Rwandan-led rebels from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda.

Uganda, Iran and the Security-Democracy Trade Space?

Secretary of State Clinton noted this week to the African Chiefs of Mission the Africa Bureau’s efforts on wrangling votes for Iran sanctions:

The bureau was enormously helpful in rounding up votes for the sanctions resolution on Iran – Gabon, Nigeria, Uganda, thank you, because it wasn’t easy. I think I talked to President Museveni three times and Johnnie visited him several times. But – end result was we got strong African support for the international sanctions regime. We are building, and in some – many cases, rebuilding collaboration not only along bilateral lines, but multilateral alliances, most especially in our collaboration and engagement with the African Union, because it’s very important that we do more to build up the African Union and other regional entities like the East African Community, which has a real potential for being an engine of economic prosperity. [emphasis added]

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at African Chiefs of Mission Conference

Tensions continue building over Uganda’s February 2011 elections–see yesterday’s news about opposition plans for a parallel electronic vote count and the Ugandan government’s strident reaction.

Carl LeVan has an excellent discussion of "Democratization and Securitization in Uganda" that I would highly recommend.

The ruling NRM has cleverly adopted the Global War on Terrorism as a political resource. Even before the terrorist bombing in the capital in July 2010, the government began closing political space in the name of national security while it successfully obtained aid commitments from the United States to fight counter-insurgency wars, one of which is against the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the north.

. . . .

Looking beyond the Pentagon, Washington is clearly aware of Uganda’s governance drift. For example the US announced that will not renew 10 million dollars committed through Millennium Challenge Corporation to help Uganda move from “threshold” status to a full compact (ie, an agreement) for aid. USAID’s plans call for strengthening democratic institutions, enhancing political competition, and improving parliamentary capacity for oversight through partnerships with civil society. Unfortunately USAID faces an uphill battle, with no increases in the lines funding for either for civil society programs or for its good governance in Uganda, and cuts are planned for programs relating to “political competition and consensus building.” Even aid to fight transnational crime is slated for cuts.

In addition to all the regional security issues involving Somalia, Sudan, Congo and the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Iran sanctions issue adds another interesting twist. I noted back in May that Assistant Secretary Carson and AFRICOM Commander General Ward were seeking Museveni’s support on Iran sanctions during a visit to Kampala, as well as pushing for Museveni to relinquish unilateral control of the Electoral Commission. The U.S. succeeded in persuading Uganda to support sanctions, but did not secure action on the Electoral Commission. Both worthy goals, but is there a trade off?

It is also interesting to note a report that Uganda has now been working with Iran to create a joint bank as a mechanism to allow Uganda to obtain access to $46M in pledged Iranian credits that have impeded by the sanctions:

[A] memo prepared by the ministry for Parliament’s public accounts committee, in response to an audit query, said that sanctions had complicated the money transfer. "The ministry has followed up the implementation of this line of credit. However, it has faced challenges, especially following the imposition of sanctions on Iran," said the memo.

"In a bid to overcome the difficulty in transferring funds to and from Iran because of sanctions and to promote investment and trade, the two countries agreed on the establishment of a bank as a joint venture as the best way forward," it said.

Development Challenges: Ugandan Elections and Hunger in NE Kenya

Uganda ElectionsHere is an interesting report regarding the various NGO efforts to the potential violence that is a growing concern in relation to Uganda’s upcoming February 2011 elections. Concerns expressed include questions about excessively expensive or wasteful projects, the need to distinguish between important and effective groups and those “which are just parasitic”, and the degree to which donors should dictate the use of funds and the extent to which this may influence the political process.

One project singled out for scrutiny is a soccer tournament “to reconcile the warring political parties” organized by the Global Peace Festival Foundation, an organization launched by Prof. Apollo Nsibambi, the prime minister, on August 30.

In total, the two football competitions will cost GPFF Shs 610 million–enough money for a strong opposition party to run a successful compaign. Moreover, experts say that the majority of NGO funds are spent on workshops, furnished offices, and workers’ remuneration, leaving very little for the real projects.

According to the NGO registration board, there are over 8500 civil society organizations in Uganda and of these over 1000 are aimed at preventing violence or promoting election integrity.

Northeastern Kenya–high levels of child malnutrition continue to exist in spite of better rains recently according the the World Food Program. The previous drought reduced herds, so pastoralists continue to lack meat, milk and blood. Likewise, general underdevelopment from lack of health care facitlities, lack of roads and transportation, and lack of education (mothers’ illiteracy contributes to lack of knowledge about proper nutrition for children). A report today on IRIN entitled “Instability Without Borders” explains that the spillover effects from instability and al-Shabaab control of bordering areas of Somalia has driven some aid organizations out and greatly driven up costs for others, reducing the ability for service delivery to address these problems. While the border is porous to the flow of small arms and raids, it appears from the report that Kenya’s police high police presence has helped prevent major escalations on the Kenyan side of the border, the threat from previous cross-border kidnappings and raids, along with the general insecurity and prevalence of arms has resulted in a daily 12-hour curfew and a standard requirement that all travel include armed escort and has led many organizations to park their own vehicles and only travel in hired transport.

US-Kenya Relations–a counterterrorism versus reform tradeoff?

Alex Thurston at Sahel Blog has an interesting post on “Concern over US-Kenya Relations” that is well worth a read, along with his linked opinion piece in the Guardian last fall and a current VOA report.

Certainly the US has been very inconsistent in terms of what its priorities are for the relationship with Kenya over the past four years. The decision on Ambassador Ranneberger’s replacement will be important, as was the mixed message associated with extending his term for a year for mid-2009 to mid-2010.

From my perspective a longer term view and consistency on reform would allow us to accomplish more both in combating potential terrorism and in helping Kenya toward better governance. To me, the vulnerability of Kenya in the security areas is very much linked to corruption and poor governance. Kenya is a money laundering center and a safe transit point for terrorists in some significant part because of the ability to buy protection through bribes, as well as to avoid detection and arrest and legal process due to weak governance.

Further, to the extent that you use tactics like “rendition” in conjunction with a government and security forces like those in Kenya, you are going to make some significant number of people afraid and alienated that are not otherwise in sympathy with terrorists. That’s just the reality and any expectation otherwise is foolish. Whether these kind of tactics are worth this kind of cost is the question–not how you can have it both ways.

Allow me to quote Defense Secretary Gates from his new Foreign Affairs piece, “Helping Others Defend Themselves: The Future of U.S. Security Assistance” [full text subscription-only], published yesterday:

The United States has made great strides in building up the operational capacity of its partners by training and mentoring them in the field. But there has not been enough attention paid to building the institutional capacity (such as defense ministries) or the human capital (including leadership skills and attitudes) needed to sustain security over the long term.

The United States now recognizes that the security sectors of at-risk countries are really systems of systems tying together the military, the police, the justice system, and other governance and oversight mechanisms. . . .

See “Corruption and Terrorism/Security”

Kenya–Security News

Another terrorism suspect escapes from Kenyan custody under suspicious circumstances.

KANU leaders right about one thing at least–the Administration Police should be disbanded and merged into the normal police force. The AP has grown to be equivalent in size to the 40,000 member national police, and is obviously a security threat in its own right. This was evident in the deployment of the AP to support the Kibaki re-election effort in December 2007 amid bold-faced denials, and spiraling rumors–helping to lay the groundwork for the post-election violence–as well as participating in it directly. [For Gideon Moi to pledge to tackle corruption is something else again . . . . ]

Carson says US to increase relative focus on food security in Africa policy.

Business leaders plan to use “Prime Minister’s Round Table” discussion to focus on insecurity–one idea: “re-deployment of police from non-core activities such as managing buildings, stadiums and chauffeuring civil servants, freeing them to carry out their core mandate of maintaining law and order.”

Meanwhile, with Sudan’s national elections coming up next month, The East African identifies a potential split between the US and other Western donors on one hand, and Kenya and Uganda on the other, in regard to South Sudanese independence:

The EastAfrican has separately learned that key Western democracies and institutions, fearing that independence for the South in its present state could see the area slide into anarchy, have quietly urged President Salva Kiir’s government to go slow on secession.

“Independence for the South should be put off for a few more years primarily because of lack of capacity in the South to run a stable and secure state,” said a source privy to Western analysis of the evolving situation in Sudan.

He added: “There is no institutional infrastructure to support a state, so there is a high chance that the country will degenerate into a Somalia-like situation. This would open a ‘corridor of terror’ across the region that could be infiltrated by Al Qaeda and its associates to create instability that would run counter to Western interests.” Continue reading

Security and Corruption

The Business Daily has it right:

It may be passing off as an ordinary security problem in which the police are taking a whacking for sleeping on the job.

But the repeat discovery of a large stock of arms in a private residence in Narok is a reflection of the grim realities of our economy.

Kenyans should be deeply worried that someone has been able to move such large amounts of dangerous weapons without detection by the country’s rather elaborate security machinery or with its tacit participation.

If indeed it is true that the arms moved without the knowledge of the police, it is largely because our security apparatus has not moved with the times.

The truth is that lucrative but illicit trade in illegal substances such as arms, counterfeits and drugs has to be oiled by large sums of money.

Unless and until the Kenyan government is less corrupt, Kenya will be a place to do business for terrorists and international criminals of other types, and for illicit weapons trade and money laundering. There is a great opportunity in that the interests of Western donors and of Kenyan citizens converge here, as ordinary Kenyans are both victims of criminality and bear the costs of inflation associated with the illicit funds. The change necessary is for the donors to take the long view and get serious about consistent action over a period of years to fight the criminality instead of swinging back and forth among alternative competing priorities.

In the meantime, a new Senate report indicates that funds representing the fruit of corruption in Africa, as well as other parts of the world, continue to enter the US in spite of the post-9/11 crackdown on money laundering.
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With its own issues would Kenya really send troops to Somalia as suggested by Foreign Minister Wetangula?

Fallout from Jamia Mosque Protest

Reuters reports the arrest on incitement to violence charges of leader of the Kenyan Muslim Human Rights Forum.

Check BBC News on the feed below for reports that Kenyan authorities are losing their appetite for the role of host to Somali politicians, as reflected in the brief arrests of Somali MPs in the Eastleigh raids today following the Jamia Mosque protest Friday. The comment is that perhaps Somali politicians should either enter the country as refugees and stay in the camps or stay in Somalia.

One more messy and complicated situation handled with characteristic subtlety by what Ben Rawlence of Human Rights Watch has aptly called Kenya’s “State within a State”–the police and security forces and key security ministries that were “off the table” in the Kenyan election and formation of a coalition government.

Kenya, if it is to become stabilized and return to democracy, must learn to tolerate political expression by citizens which continues to be regularly suppressed by force. This would create a climate in which security forces could hope to become trusted and gain public cooperation. There are conflicting reports about the protests last Friday and I can’t really weigh in on the details of that specific situation, but until I see otherwise I have to assume that the actions of the police and GSU are more likely to inflame than secure.

The questions raised are real, however, of how helpful to either Kenya or Somalia is the role of Nairobi as the back office for both Somali politicians and for the diplomatic and aid infrastructure for Somalia. In the case of United States government specifically, doesn’t Kenya warrant its own ambassador, rather than having to share one who is also in charge of the US role in ungoverned Somalia?

Corruption and Terrorism/Security

Timely and interesting post here from the FCPA Blog, noting an article in the December issue of Foreign Affairs which discusses investigative reporting showing the ease of obtaining a new US biometric passport using a false identity, and tying this to the Anglo Leasing scandal in Kenya where “most of the tainted contracts related to Kenya’s security apparatus — passport controls, forensic labs, security vehicles and satellite services, among others”.

We have seen lots of examples where Kenya’s lauded security co-operation with the United States and other countries in the region is undermined by corruption.

The fact remains that the United States, from 9/11 to the would-be Nigerian bomber in Detroit on Christmas Day, makes itself vulnerable by allowing people subject to know terrorism concerns to enter the country legally. Presumably our first priority in fighting terrorism would be to do more to get our own house in order. Beyond that, we should be leery of investing in and relying on “partners” that prove themselves unreliable due to known propensities for corruption.

Stepping back from the Abyss, a talk by John G...

Stepping back from the Abyss, a talk by John Githongo. At a function organized by the Kenya Society at the Victory Services Club, London W2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Global Graft Report highlights a Deutsche Welle feature on Wikileaks which suggests that the greatest “wikileak” to date has been the publication of John Githongo’s materials on Anglo Leasing and related corruption in Kenya.