In postelection DRC, transition looks like restoration
After delaying elections for two years, former DRC President Joseph Kabila hit upon a clever stratagem to resolve his “third-term” problem. Borrowing a page from Vladimir Putin’s book, he appears to have arranged for a stand-in, nominally from the opposition, to win the presidency in a manipulated ballot. Mr. Kabila intends to run the country from a Senate seat or perhaps even as prime minister. The international community seems to be turning a blind eye to these shenanigans because it prefers stability to the prospect of turmoil and civil war.
A new wave of unrest in North Africa
Street demonstrations have forced Algeria’s president to resign and Sudan’s to declare a year-long state of emergency. In both countries, these popular revolts are challenging entrenched regimes that successfully weathered the Arab Spring protests of 2011. Can this unexpected coda to the revolutions that opened an unhappy decade in the Middle East and North Africa lead to better results?
GIS Dossier: Europe as a global player: The Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa
The most important part of Europe’s security perimeter in the 21st century may be its southern rim. The migration crisis of 2015 was only a foretaste of the demographic, economic and political pressures that are building up in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the approaches tried by European powers in this vital and growing region have generally failed. They need to get it right as new rival enters the neighborhood – China.
Essay: As Russian history repeats itself, Putin becomes Yeltsin
Russia’s pension reform continues to reverberate in domestic politics. For the first time ever, President Vladimir Putin has assumed full personal responsibility for an unpopular decision that directly infringes on the lives of most Russians. The effects are already visible in his slumping popularity and in the startling results of gubernatorial elections in several regions. Mr. Putin could be looking for an electoral out as he follows the downhill path of his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.
GIS Dossier: Europe as a global player – the Middle East and North Africa
Europe’s influence as a great power is nowhere more apparent than in the attraction it exerts on the poorer countries to its south – in the Middle East and Northern Africa. This is the region where European Union member states, often without U.S. support, have deployed their full foreign-policy arsenal, from diplomacy and military intervention to financial aid and investment, with mixed success. Yet as migration and terror show, problems the EU fails to address “out there” tend to wind up on its doorstep.
Togo faces two years of turmoil
Togo is another instance of “third termism” in sub-Saharan Africa, as a long-time ruler determined to stay in power collides with an increasingly angry populace. President Faure Gnassingbe appears to be losing his grip ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, while his well-organized opponents may be able to count on outside intervention from ECOWAS, West Africa’s regional bloc.
Russia breaks its social contract
In two decades of rule, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ensured stability by offering Russians an implicit social contract – a modest but secure social safety net in exchange for carte blanche in politics. Now, the country’s deepening financial and demographic crisis has put an end to this, forcing the government to make plans for increasing taxes and raising the retirement age by as much as eight years. No matter how cleverly handled, these austerity measures could trigger a serious backlash.
Armenia’s velvet revolution poses long-term risks
On the surface, the overthrow of Armenia’s longtime ruler Serzh Sargsyan poses no threat to Russia’s geopolitical position in the South Caucasus. Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan, elevated to the premiership by popular revolt, keeps stressing his exclusively domestic agenda and desire for close ties with Russia. But the long run, reforms that tackle corruption among the local political and business elites work against Moscow’s interests.
What Lukashenko learned from Crimea
Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko is still coming to terms with what Russia’s intervention in Ukraine means for his own autocratic rule. Recent events in Armenia show that his overthrow might not occur on the back of Russian tanks, but via a hybridized “color” revolution capitalizing on social discontent. Lukashenko has responded by cozying up to the EU and easing pressure on the opposition at home, but it may not be enough to save him.