On July 29th, the New York Times journalist Rukmini Callimachi published a fascinating account of the role of hostage-taking in the operations of Al-Qaeda and other militant groups. Along with the article, the Times published several letters between members of Al-Qaeda leadership in the Sahara and in Yemen, which its reporter found in [...]Continue Reading →
I argue that the Chadian political marketplace is characterized by five main patterns: externally-derived rents, the gap between politico-military entrepreneurs and the cheap combatant labor force who participate in “rent-seeking” rebellions, a violent mode of governing associated with a decentralized control over the instruments of coercion, the structural weakness of the civilian opposition trapped between repression and cooptation, and the exclusion of women.Continue Reading →
The central lessons are well worn but nonetheless worth re-stating. First, the main effort in counter-terrorism should be social and political reform in affected countries, and second—for the United States—a national security strategy cannot substitute for a foreign policy that is aimed at finding political solutions to political problems.Continue Reading →
Here’s the paradox: successive governments in Khartoum have managed their peripheries on the basis of individual bargaining. It is sometimes derogatively called “Jellaba politics” with reference to the northern Sudanese traders who dominate the retail business in small provincial towns. The ruler cuts deals with members of the provincial elites—administrators, tribal chiefs, militia commanders, rebels—on [...]Continue Reading →
After the end of the oil rents, it has become much more complex… and much more like the 1990s. President Bashir has to bargain both with those making demands on his resources (the Islamists, the Ministry of Defense, and armed rebels) but also with financiers (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, military industries, the government’s financial institutions).
This is not an auspicious context in which to make peace…Continue Reading →
More important for President Omar al Bashir than the shortage of money is the fact that the squeeze is where it hurts him most: the discretionary budget available for him as ruler. How does he obtain his “political budget” necessary to stay in power? That is the topic of the next (penultimate) post.Continue Reading →
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