Interview with Alex de Waal in Addis Fortune

Ethiopia is at a very critical moment. There is the potential for it to go in a highly marketized and monetized political direction. There is also the potential, if the EPRDF leadership responds to the current situation with what I see as the appropriate measures to consolidate, to turn the developmental successes into a politically solid democratization project.

What is interesting about Sudan, particularly with the squeeze from the oil revenue, is that the Sudanese business class is beginning to assert itself, and that has the potential for stabilizing politics in northern Sudan. There are some very immediate dangers of democracy, to do with Sudan’s engagement with the wider politics of the Middle East and the growth of the defense and security establishments.

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Start Preparing for the Collapse of the Saudi Kingdom

In fact, Saudi Arabia is no state at all. There are two ways to describe it: as a political enterprise with a clever but ultimately unsustainable business model, or so corrupt as to resemble in its functioning a vertically and horizontally integrated criminal organization. Either way, it can’t last. It’s past time U.S.decision-makers began planning for the collapse of the Saudi kingdom.

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South Sudan: The Price of Peace…Talks

History shows that the Sudanese and South Sudanese only reach peace agreements when the budget is increasing. Every political leader goes to the peace table expecting to depart with more than the amount he arrived with. The problem facing the mediators was that South Sudan’s budget is shrinking rapidly.

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South Sudan: The price of war, the price of peace

This post begins a new eight-part cartoon series with text Alex de Waal and artwork by Victor Ndula, depicting the political marketplace in South Sudan. The series is the second in a collaboration between de Waal and Ndula, the first 8 episodes, “South Sudan: Who got What?” can be found on our website. The project was co-sponsored by the Cartoon Movement, Justice and Security Research Programme and the World Peace Foundation. We begin with Episode One

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Two Definitions of Kleptocracy – and How ‘The Sentry’ Might be Useful

Begin with recognizing that all political systems need money, and that political finance should be regulated. This in turn requires drawing a distinction between political spending and corruption. This is a simple distinction to assert but a remarkably difficult one to delineate in practice.

The difference between legitimate funding of political institutions and patronage systems, and theft, needs to be drawn differently for each political system. So the next step is to initiate a process that allows countries to draw this line themselves. In institutionalized political systems, there can be an open debate on political financing, leading to legislation and enforcement. In political markets, it is the political financiers—the domestic businesses, foreign investors and patrons who provide the political money—who must take the lead. Let them collectively determine what counts as corruption and what is legitimate political spending.

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