J. Peter Pham
J. Peter Pham
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Morocco Wrong-foots Its African Critics

February 1, 2017  •  Daily Maverick

If Morocco eventually gets its way, "defeat into victory" – a phrase popularised by the commander of Britain's "forgotten army" in World War II, Field Marshal The Viscount Slim – might prove an apt description of its new approach towards the African Union (AU). By joining the AU without the so-called Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic exiting the organization, Morocco appears to have accepted a setback in one political battle. But victory in the kingdom's long war is now within reach.

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Germany's "Marshall Plan" for Africa

January 23, 2017  •  New Atlanticist

Explicitly invoking the American aid initiative that rebuilt Western Europe's devastated infrastructure and weakened economies after World War II as a bulwark against Communist expansionism, the German government has unveiled an ambitious framework for a "Marshall Plan with Africa" (Eckpunkte für einen Marshallplan mit Afrika) with the twin objectives of increasing trade and development on the continent and, it hoped, of consequently reducing mass migration flows northward across the Mediterranean. Africa is the focus of the current German G20 presidency and the Marshall Plan for the continent will likely figure prominently in the G20 summit in Hamburg in July. The European Union is likewise working on a new Africa strategy ahead of the EU-Africa Summit, scheduled for November. Whether the Germans and other European countries will ultimately find the money and deploy the political will necessary to actually implement their big plans for Africa remains to be seen. Nevertheless the United States has a lot of catch up to do in bringing the public and private sectors together to forge a robust US approach to the new Africa, whose rising geopolitical importance and burgeoning economic dynamism ought to make it a strategic priority in the new administration, even without the threat of migrant waves that weigh so heavily on European calculations.

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Monsieur Hollande Goes to Africa

January 17, 2017  •  New Atlanticist

French President François Hollande went to Bamako, Mali, last week for the twenty-seventh Africa-France Summit, his last scheduled visit to Africa before he leaves office in May. Given Africa's rising geopolitical heft and burgeoning economic dynamism, the legacy the French leader actually leaves in the region – which has been a bright spot amid the French leader's widespread unpopularity – and how his successor manages his country's relationship with Africa is of significant import not only for Africans, but also for France, its European neighbors, and, indeed, the wider transatlantic community, including the incoming Trump administration to which Africa presents considerable opportunities as well as challenges.

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Africa's Economic Prospects in 2017: Ten Countries to Watch

January 9, 2017  •  AfricaSource

The continued failure of commodities prices to recover significantly and the global slowdown of economic growth, especially in China and other emerging markets, made 2016 a tumultuous year for many African economies, indeed, "the worst year for average economic growth" in the region in over twenty years, according to a report from Ernst & Young. Compounding these trends, varying dynamics within the continent's biggest economies meant that Nigeria slipped into recession while South Africa barely lurched forward with anemic 0.2 percent growth in the third quarter. Looking ahead, those countries which have diversified their economies, focused on energy infrastructure, and promoted industrialization will be best poised to overcome the current challenges and succeed in 2017.

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Why the Resilience of Islamist Militants Will Threaten Security across Africa in 2017

December 30, 2016  •  Newsweek

As 2016 draws to a close, the flame of jihadist militancy and violence will continue to present in the new year one of the biggest obstacles to what is otherwise the generally buoyant economic prospects for Africa, where this year's moderate average growth is expected to accelerate to 4.5 percent in 2017. Even where they do not pose an existential threat to the states affected, the various militant jihadist groups currently active across Africa can nonetheless have a disproportionate impact on their fortunes. With ISIS- and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups – including Boko Haram, AQIM, and al-Shabaab –poised to wreak considerable havoc across the Africa in the coming months, threatening not only the countries immediately impacted, but also affecting the interests and security of the United States and its allies, and given that President-elect Donald Trump campaigned for the White House promising that halting the spread of radical Islamism and jihadist violence would be a cornerstone of his foreign policy, expect heightened U.S. security engagement on the continent in 2017, both in support of willing and capable African partners as well as direct action by American forces.

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