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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Political Transition in Tunisia


Alexis Arieff
Analyst in African Affairs

On January 14, 2011, longtime President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled the country following weeks of mounting anti-government protests. Tunisia’s mass popular uprising, dubbed the “Jasmine Revolution,” sparked anti-government and pro-reform movements in other countries across the region, and some policy makers view Tunisia as a potential “test case” for democratic transitions in the Middle East.

Ben Ali’s departure was greeted by widespread euphoria within Tunisia. However, disputes over reform priorities, political instability, economic crisis, labor unrest, tensions between the privileged coastal region and relatively impoverished interior, and lingering insecurity are continuing challenges, while the humanitarian impact of refugee flows from Libya presents additional difficulties. National elections are scheduled for October 23 to select a transitional “National Constituent Assembly.” The Assembly will, in turn, be charged with promulgating a new constitution ahead of expected presidential and parliamentary elections, which have not yet been scheduled. Over 100 parties, most of them newly created, along with independents are competing for seats in the Assembly. However, the Constituent Assembly’s timeline of existence, its mandate, and its decision-making process remain largely undetermined.

Until January, Ben Ali and his Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party exerted near-total control over parliament, state and local governments, and most political activity. Tunisia cultivated strong ties with France and the European Union, its largest trading partner, and with the United States. Despite many political and economic characteristics shared across the region, Tunisia exhibits a number of unique attributes: it has a relatively small territory, a sizable and highly educated middle class, and a long history of encouraging women’s socioeconomic freedoms. These factors have led some analysts to state that Tunisia is the best placed country in the region to successfully undergo a democratic transition—and that conversely, if it can’t, that this could have dire implications for other countries such as Egypt and Libya.

Tunisia’s transition raises a wide range of questions for the future of the country and the region. These pertain to the struggle between reformists and entrenched forces carried over from the former regime; the potential shape of the new political order; the future role of Islamist movements in the government and society; the role of the security forces in steering political events; and the difficult diplomatic balance—for the United States and other actors—of encouraging greater democratic openness while not undermining other foreign policy priorities.

Congress authorizes and appropriates foreign assistance funding and oversees U.S. foreign policy toward Tunisia and the wider region. U.S.-Tunisian relations were, prior to 2011, highly focused on military assistance and counterterrorism. The Obama Administration has proposed over $33 million in newly allocated funding for the promotion of democracy, good governance, and economic reforms, in addition to economic support through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. International financial institutions, which receive significant U.S. financial support, and the G8 have also pledged aid for Tunisia. Some Members of Congress argue that additional aid should allocated for democracy promotion and economic recovery in Tunisia, while others contend that budgetary cuts take precedence over new aid programs, or that economic stabilization may be best addressed by the private sector or by other donors. Related draft bills include S. 618/ H.R. 2237 and S. 1388.



Date of Report: September 2
0, 2011
Number of Pages:
32
Order Number: RS216
66
Price: $29.95

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Africa: U.S. Foreign Assistance Issues


Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs

U.S. aid to Africa initially reached a peak in 1985, when global competition with the Soviet Union was at a high point. After the cold war ended, security assistance levels for Africa began to decline. In 1995, at the outset of the 104th Congress, substantial reductions in aid to Africa had been anticipated, as many questioned the importance of Africa to U.S. national security interests in the post-cold war era. As the debate went forward, however, congressional reports and bills emphasized U.S. humanitarian, economic, and other interests in Africa. Aid levels did fall, but gradually began to increase again in FY1997. U.S. assistance to Africa is reaching new highs due to a significant increase in health care sectors under the Global Health and Child Survival (GHCS) program. U.S. aid to Africa nearly quadrupled from $1.2 billion in FY2006 to $6.9 billion in FY2011. Moreover, the United States is the leading donor of humanitarian assistance to Africa. Between FY1999 and FY2009, the United States provided over $10.1 billion to East and Central African countries and an estimated $2.2 billion to Southern Africa countries.

U.S. assistance reaches Africa through a variety of channels, including USAID-administered Development Assistance (DA) and GHCS programs, food aid programs, and refugee assistance. As of February 2010, the Peace Corps had an estimated 2,620 volunteers and trainers in 29 African countries. The U.S. African Development Foundation (ADF) makes small grants to cooperatives, youth groups, and self-help organizations and operates in 20 countries. The Obama Administration has requested $30 million for ADF for FY2011. U.S. security assistance, though still far below levels seen in the 1980s, has increased in recent years, primarily because of U.S. support for African peacekeeping and counter-terrorism initiatives. The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) is the principal multilateral channel for U.S. aid, but the United States also contributes to the African Development Bank and Fund and to United Nations activities in Africa.

Total U.S. foreign assistance to Africa for FY2009 was $8.2 billion. More than half of the FY2009 funding went to health-related programs. Sub-Saharan Africa received an estimated $8.09 billion in FY2010 and $6.9 billion in FY2011. The Obama Administration has requested an estimated $7.7 billion for FY2012.



Date of Report: September 15, 2011
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: RL33591
Price: $29.95

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Libya: Unrest and U.S. Policy


Christopher M. Blanchard
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs

Muammar al Qadhafi’s 40 years of authoritarian rule in Libya have effectively come to an end. The armed uprising that began in February 2011 has reached a turning point, and opposition forces now control the capital city, Tripoli, in addition to the eastern and western areas of the country. Most observers doubt the rebel gains are reversible. However, the coastal city of Sirte and some parts of central and southern Libya remain contested, and, isolated groups of pro- Qadhafi forces remain capable of armed resistance. The U.S. military continues to participate in Operation Unified Protector, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military operation to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorizes “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians. As of September 9, Muammar al Qadhafi had not been located or detained, and opposition Transitional National Council (TNC) leaders are urging their forces to exercise restraint and caution so that Qadhafi, his family members, and key regime officials may be captured alive, formally charged, and put to trial.

The Libyan people, their interim Transitional National Council, and the international community are shifting their attention from the immediate struggle with the remnants of Qadhafi’s regime to the longer-term challenges of establishing and maintaining security, preventing criminality and reprisals, restarting Libya’s economy, and beginning a political transition. The TNC has issued orders concerning security in Tripoli and established a high security council to coordinate its forces. A TNC stabilization team is leading efforts to deliver services, assess Libya’s reconstruction needs, and reform Libyan ministries. TNC officials have discussed interim security advisory missions with the United Nations Secretary General but made no firm public commitments. The Obama Administration has reiterated that it has no intention of deploying U.S. military forces on the ground in Libya. U.S. officials express confidence that nuclear materials and chemical weapons components that are stored in Libya remain secure and state that remote monitoring of relevant facilities will continue. The proliferation of military weaponry from Libyan stockpiles, including small arms, explosives, and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, remains a serious concern, amid continuing press reports on unsecured weapons depots.

The shift in momentum and rebel success has led to an expansion of political recognition and offers of international financial support for the TNC. Over 70 countries now have recognized the TNC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. Resolution 1973 calls for the transfer of seized Libyan government assets for the benefit of the Libyan people “as soon as possible,” and the U.S. government successfully secured U.N. authorization for an initial transfer of $1.5 billion to support humanitarian, fuel, and salary needs. Billions more in other asset transfers and new pledges of financial support have come from European and Middle Eastern governments. Members of the intergovernmental Libya Contact Group and others met in Paris, France to discuss transition arrangements and support for the TNC on September 1, and further consultations are expected in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York during late September.

Libya’s citizens, transitional authorities, and rebel fighters now face the task of overcoming Libya’s history of weak government institutions, potentially divisive political dynamics, and the effects of the fight to overthrow Qadhafi. Security challenges, significant reconstruction needs, and political uncertainty are likely to characterize events in Libya over the coming months. Congress may consider and debate means for assisting Libya’s transitional authorities or supporting international security efforts.



Date of Report:
September 9, 2011
Number of Pages:
27
Order Number: R
L33142
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace


Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs

In October 2002, the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) launched a peace process designed to end factional fighting in Somalia, led by the government of Kenya. In September 2003, the parties agreed on a Transitional National Charter (TNC). In August 2004, a 275-member Transitional Parliament was inaugurated in Kenya. In October 2004, parliament elected Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as the new president of Somalia. In June 2006, the forces of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) took control of the capital, Mogadishu. During the six-month rule by the ICU, Mogadishu became relatively peaceful, but efforts to bring peace did not lead to a major breakthrough. On December 28, 2006, Ethiopian troops captured Mogadishu with little resistance from the ICU. The Ethiopian intervention led to more chaos and instability in Somalia. In January 2007, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) came to the capital, Mogadishu, from Baidoa after the ouster of the ICU.

In June 2008, the TFG and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), a group dominated by members of the ICU, signed an agreement in Djibouti mediated by then-United Nations Special Envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdullah. The parties agreed to a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces, and the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force. A number of towns, including the third-largest town, Kismaayo, are now under the control of Al-Shabaab, a group opposed to the TFG. In February 2008, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice designated Al-Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. In January 2009, the Somali Parliament elected the leader of the ARS, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad, as president. In February 2009, President Ahmad appointed Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke as prime minister. In late October 2010, President Ahmad appointed Mohamed A. Mohamed as prime minster shortly after Sharmarke resigned. In June 2011, Prime Minister Mohamed was forced to resign because the Speaker demanded a new government. Following the resignation, there were a number of demonstrations in Mogadishu and other towns in support of the Prime Minister. Deputy Prime Minister Abdiweli M. Ali (from New York like his predecessor) was appointed prime minister and in late June Parliament approved his nomination.

Humanitarian, political, and security conditions continue to deteriorate across south-central Somalia. Between May and August 2011, an estimated 30,000 children have died as a result of the current humanitarian crisis. An estimated 3.7 million people are in need of assistance, and one in three children are malnourished. There are an estimated 792,544 Somali refugees in neighboring countries and 1.7 Internally Displaced People (IDPs). An estimated 12.4 million people are in need of assistance in the Horn of Africa region. In early August 2011, Al-Shabaab forces pulled out of Mogadishu, the capital.

The Obama Administration is actively engaged in support of the TFG and in an effort to contain terrorist groups in Somalia and the region. The U.S. Congress has passed a number of resolutions and has conducted multiple hearings on Somalia. The United States provided an estimated $403.8 million in assistance to Somalia in FY2009. In FY2010, Somalia received $152.1 million. The Obama Administration has requested $84.9 million for FY2011 and $82.3 for FY2012. The United States also provides material support to TFG forces. As of August 2011, the United States has provided $581 million in response to the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa region.

On July 11, 2010, Al-Shabaab carried out multiple suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda. An estimated 76 people, including one American, were killed and more than 80 injured. In late November 2010, President Museveni visited Mogadishu and met with Somali officials and AMISOM forces.



Date of Report: August
31, 2011
Number of Pages:
37
Order Number: RL33
911
Price: $29.95

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Libya: Unrest and U.S. Policy


Christopher M. Blanchard
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs

Muammar al Qadhafi’s 40 years of authoritarian rule in Libya have effectively come to an end. The armed uprising that began in February 2011 has reached a turning point, and opposition forces now control much of the capital city, Tripoli, in addition to other strongholds in the eastern and western areas of the country. The coastal city of Sirte and some parts of the south remain contested, and, in the Tripoli area, isolated groups of pro-Qadhafi forces are putting up some armed resistance. Rebel fighters based in western Libya, including armed Islamists and citizens of Tripoli, played a decisive role in ending Qadhafi’s control over the capital city and its approaches. Most observers doubt the rebel gains are reversible. The U.S. military continues to participate in Operation Unified Protector, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military operation to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorizes “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians. As of August 26, Muammar al Qadhafi had not been located or detained, and opposition Transitional National Council (TNC) leaders are urging their forces to exercise restraint and caution so that Qadhafi, his family members, and key regime officials may be captured alive, formally charged, and put to trial.

The Libyan people, their interim Transitional National Council, and the international community are shifting their attention from the immediate struggle with the remnants of Qadhafi’s regime to the longer-term challenges of establishing and maintaining security, preventing criminality and reprisals, restarting Libya’s economy, and beginning a political transition. The TNC has issued orders concerning security in Tripoli and has announced the establishment of a high security council to incorporate cooperative former regime security force commanders, eastern rebel leaders, and rebel commanders from Misuratah, the western mountains, and Tripoli. TNC officials also are discussing an interim security observer or advisory mission with the United Nations Secretary General. The Obama Administration has reiterated that it has no intention of deploying U.S. military forces on the ground in Libya. U.S. officials express confidence that nuclear materials and chemical weapons components that are stored in Libya remain secure and state that remote monitoring of relevant facilities will continue. The proliferation of military weaponry from Libyan stockpiles, including small arms, explosives, and shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, remains a serious concern.

The shift in momentum and rebel success has led to an expansion of political recognition and offers of international financial support for the TNC. Over 40 countries now have recognized the TNC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. New offers of hundreds of millions of dollars in financial support have come from Germany, Turkey, and others. Resolution 1973 calls for the transfer of seized Libyan government assets for the benefit of the Libyan people “as soon as possible,” and the United States is supporting U.N. authorization of an initial transfer of $1.5 billion to support humanitarian, fuel, and salary needs. Members of the intergovernmental Libya Contact Group and others have met in Doha, Qatar, and Istanbul, Turkey, to discuss transition arrangements and support for the TNC. A broader international meeting of the Contact Group, Russia, China, India, and others is planned in Paris, France, for the week of August 29.

Libya’s citizens, transitional authorities, and rebel fighters now face the task of overcoming Libya’s history of weak government institutions, potentially divisive political dynamics, and the effects of the fight to overthrow Qadhafi. Security challenges, significant reconstruction needs, and political uncertainty are likely to characterize events in Libya over the coming months. Congress may consider and debate means for assisting Libya’s transitional authorities or supporting international security efforts.



Date of Report: August 26, 2011
Number of Pages: 27
Order Number: RL33142
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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