In a mid-term election in Argentina, supporters of President Cristina Fernández retained their narrow majority in the country’s Congress, though her political group won only 32% of the vote, down from 54% in 2011. Sérgio Massa, a former ally turned rival Peronist (promoted above), topped the poll in Buenos Aires province, making him the man to watch in the 2015 presidential election.
STILL raw from the worst act of terrorism on its soil in 15 years, Kenya has rarely appeared more united than when President Uhuru Kenyatta, in an emotional address on September 24th, announced the end of a bloody attack on a showpiece mall in the capital, Nairobi. His soaring rhetoric was given added force by the fact that members of his own family were among the dead. His nephew was killed, the president said, together with his fiancée, when militants from the Shabab, a Somali Islamist group, stormed the Westgate centre three days earlier. His son and sister were inside, too, but managed to get out.
During her recent trip to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania with the president, Michelle Obama emphasized the importance of one issue over others – a good education.
New data from the Council on Foreign Relations' Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) shows that April was the second-bloodiest month in Nigeria since President Goodluck Jonathan's inauguration in May 2011. Five hundred and seventy one people were killed by an Islamic insurgency called Boko Haram, by Nigeria's security services, or in sectarian clashes. There is a long history of military brutality in Nigeria under both military and civilian governments. Nevertheless, the pace of clashes between Boko Haram and Nigeria's security services appears to be accelerating, with many non-combatants killed. Though Nigeria is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa and a major oil producer, the federal government in Abuja is failing to provide security for its citizens in parts of the country.
Terrorist activity in North Africa has been reinvigorated in the last few years by a local Algerian Islamist group turned pan-Maghreb jihadi organization: al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). A Sunni group that previously called itself the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), the organization has taken responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks in the region, declared its intention to attack Western targets, and sent a squad of jihadis to Iraq. Experts believe these actions suggest widening ambitions within the group's leadership, now pursuing a more global, sophisticated, and better-financed direction. Long categorized as part of a strictly domestic insurgency against Algeria's military government, AQIM claims to be the local franchise operation for al-Qaeda, a worrying development for a region that has been relatively peaceful since the bloody Algerian civil war of the 1990s drew to a close. European officials are taking AQIM's international threats seriously and are worried about the growing number of Europe-based cells, states the Europol Report.
The parallels are striking: A government collapses in a divided country, militant jihadist groups quickly fill the vacuum, and a humanitarian disaster breaks out, threatening to breed chaos throughout the region. These factors have long been associated with Somalia, the world's most enduring failed state. But for months now they have begun to describe Mali, located across the continent to the west, which is now poised to assume Somalia's unenviable status as Africa's most troubled nation. And just as Somalia's instability ripped through the Horn of Africa, so too could the chaos in Mali mean trouble for the larger Sahel region in West Africa.
Violence between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria is drawing the country ever closer to a religious war. The instigator of this conflict is Boko Haram, an Islamist movement whose very name means "Western education is forbidden." If the Nigerian government can't stop this conflict from spiraling out of control, expect the United States to step in -- albeit with a relatively light hand -- to tip the scales against Boko Haram.
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