Securitizing Ebola

One aspect of Benton and Dionne’s writing that I found interesting was the securitization of Ebola. In 2014, Obama began framing the crisis as one of security as opposed to health, and this had its pros and cons.

The authors state “Western governments’ designation of the Ebola crisis as a crisis of security for the West also seemed to put Africans who were ill and dying in the same category as politically motivated terrorists” (223). But the United States’ decision to focus on the national security perspective had more consequences than that. The most significant result was the creation of fear amongst the American population. Politicians placed an emphasis on the disease’s potential to infiltrate and ruin modern life, which inevitably garnered everyone’s attention. In this, they were able to capitalize on that fear, allowing for more bi-partisan policy proposals and the ability to pose a generally more unified front to the international community that shows America cares about Ebola.

This has both advantages and disadvantages. One one hand, I think it is important to get the American public involved in international politics – to care about something even when it happens in a place so far away from our shores. Alternatively, new policy proposals could prove too heavy-handed, fuel discrimination, and lead to an undesirable end (tighter border control in the face of dying refugees, for example). We saw a similar situation most recently in the attacks on Paris. Right-wing Conservatists used this tragic event to push their agendas. By capitalizing on the fear of the American public, they have pushed for more border security, and governors across the nation have pledged to not let Syrian refugees into their states, though they technically do not even have the authority to do so. If we look at it through this lens, then we have no choice but to place West Africans with Ebola in the same category as ISIS terrorists, which is exactly what Benton and Dionne want to avoid.

The US has had some positive impact on the Ebola crisis, in that because America’s international role in fighting it has increased, more foreign aid has been sent to West Africa. But this also creates some issues. Does the US’s response take away from that of the African continent? More assistance to Africa means more international actors, but a crisis such as this desperately requires a coordinated attack. Who can lead such an attack? Without a proper leader and coordination, a response to a crisis like this can only be slow and ineffective. This was part of an argument used by Benton and Dionne. They even go so far as to say the slow response contributed to the severity of the outbreak. Whether you agree with that assertion or not, it is clear that there are pros and cons to the securitization of the Ebola crisis.



Benton, Adia, & Kim Yi Dionne. 2015. International Political Economy and the 2014 West African Ebola Outbreak. Afr. Stud. Rev., 58 (01), 223.

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The Ebola crisis: a case for good governance

Western imperialistic claims about democracy aside, the Ebola outbreak in three small West African countries and the inadequate and delayed government response highlights yet another reason to promote good governance in the region. As of 2013, before the outbreak, Freedom House ranked Guinea and Liberia Partly Free, and although Sierra Leone was upgraded from Partly Free to Free, it was downgraded again in 2014 due to increased levels of corruption (Freedom House Freedom in the World). The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators are less optimistic: in 2014, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone earned government effectiveness scores of -1.21, -1.37, and -1.22, respectively (ranked on a scale from -2.5 [worst] to +2.5 [best]). Had government institutions been stronger and well-coordinated, the Ebola outbreak may never have grown to the international epidemic it became. The lack of appropriate response and delayed acknowledgement of a serious problem at the government level exposed some of the significant weaknesses of government institutions in these countries.

As Benton and Dionne observe, the Ebola outbreak has resulted in even lower levels of trust in the government than had existed before the epidemic (as well as international organizations), noting that “citizens have expressed dissatisfaction with their governments’ responses to the epidemic” (228). Suspicions of government officials persisting from the colonial and post-colonial periods, Benton and Dionne argue, were further aggravated by their delayed and insufficient response of the Ebola crisis. Although these domestic governments did commission emergency response committees and drafted plans, they were “sluggish or weak” and officials did not anticipate the potential of the virus: “It was not until… five hundred Guineans had been infected that President Condé began attempts to tackle the problem in earnest” (229). Other presidents were little more effective in combatting the disease and preventing its transmission.

It may be unfair to blame the spread of the outbreak exclusively on the ineffectiveness of domestic governments. Benton and Dionne are also highly critical of the lasting consequences of structural adjustment policies (SAPs), established in the 1980s by the IMF and other international financial organizations, and the resulting dependence of these countries on failed or insufficient international aid programs: “Another problem—and an enduring legacy of SAPs and their emphasis on health care provision by nongovernment actors—was the heavy reliance in the three countries on aid organizations to provide patient care, particularly early on in the outbreak.” (229). This interference (or lack thereof) further undermined and impeded the governments’ ability to respond to the crises occurring within their borders. Benton and Dionne also observe that the multitude of international aid organizations, as well as the fact that the crisis was trans-national, meant that efforts were often uncoordinated: “Yet another major challenge was the large number of actors responding to the outbreak and a lack of clarity in regard to who should lead the effort. The cross-border nature of the outbreak required coordination among multiple organizations, including the local ministries of health of Lineria, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization, MSF, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, bilateral aid agencies, and other nongovernmental and aid organizations.” And although the WHO has historically taken the lead in directing international response, these “new health organizations have emerged, severely restricting the WHO’s ability to be a leading voice” (230). This has resulted in uncoordinated and counterproductive strategies in response to the Ebola outbreak.

Benton and Dionne conclude that the ineffective response to outbreak call for a reexamination of international health systems: “The Ebola outbreak and the failures in responding to it highlight the need for public health scholars and policymakers to reevaluate a number of factors, including bilateral agreements for providing health care; the adequacy of the health workforce; infrastructural, financial, and institutional barriers to building functioning public health systems; and the diverse needs of the populations living in the most affected countries” (233). I would like to argue, on the other hand, that promoting good governance is equally as important as, if not more than, improving these international health strategies for preventing future epidemics of the same magnitude. It is likely that the surge in international health organizations and health aid to these countries has created a disincentive for domestic governments to improve national healthcare systems, which, in light of the recent Ebola crisis, have proven to be rather weak and ineffective. Although I do not want to suggest that international health organizations are bad per se, they can cause more harm than good when they hinder domestic governance. The Ebola outbreak exposed some of the underlying weaknesses of domestic institutions and revealed yet another unintended consequences of international aid programs. In light of this, future focus should be placed on deepening and strengthening good governance in the region.


World Bank, Worldwide Governance Indicators:

Freedom House, Freedom in the World:

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News: Chinese Investment in Africa

The Economist just published a new article about Chinese investment in Africa called “Not as easy at it looks”:

It discusses how the success and power of Chinese investment in Africa is probably overblown. This is because Chinese firms have been facing a lot of the same problems that Western firms have faced in the past with regard to Africa. One paragraph sums this up quite well:

“There was, for example, a widely touted Chinese investment of over $1 billion in a 3m hectare palm-oil plantation (an area roughly the size of Hawaii) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But when work started the Chinese found that there were no roads, the river was barely navigable and villagers were hostile. When a small amount of land was planted the crop was immediately stolen. The project soon disappeared.”

It is likely that China will continue to face problems conducting business in Africa, especially when most African governments remain corrupt and when African citizens are skeptical about Chinese influence.

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The DRC and Foreign Partners

Many of these bilateral relationships are imbalanced in favor of the external actor. In a beneficial agreement, the DRC will export raw materials and the foreign country will provide official development aid (ODA). However, few relationships like this exist as a direct result of the weak central government and free-for-all in the eastern part of the country. For the DRC, relationships with EU institutions and China matter most due to their willingness to promote safe and fair resource extraction and to provide large amounts of ODA. Additionally, looking at Canada’s exploitive relationship to the DRC will highlight the significance of the DRC’s mutually beneficial relationship with China.

As an institution, the EU Commission has been a top three provider of aid to the DRC for more than a decade. EU funding goes towards humanitarian relief in the form of public goods, building infrastructure, and supporting good governance. More importantly, the EU itself does not actually does not participate in any illegal mining in the DRC. While some EU member states may act as perpetrators, the EU as an organization and the goals of its Commission are to create international law that limits the exchange of these conflict goods. (1)

Canada’s relationship with the DRC is an example of an unbalanced foreign relationship that seemingly benefits both countries, but in reality Canada provides massive amounts of dead aid and perpetuates a poor business climate. This relationship is not defined by a trade agreement, but instead the central focus is Canadian foreign investment. Canada currently has $3 billion of investment in the Congolese mining industry (2). At least ten major Canadian mining companies currently operate within the borders of the DRC. Evidently, this bilateral relationship benefits Canada due to the large amount of production value from mining operations. Looking at the numbers, Canada appears to provide massive amounts of ODA to the DRC. According to the official Canadian government website, this aid aims to establish “durable peace” throughout the country. This proves not to be the case. Oftentimes this actually goes towards developing more mines. Furthermore, there have been instances where Canadian companies have funded military operations in exchange for beneficial business deals (3).

In comparison to Canada, China more readily provides the DRC with effective aid in exchange for the export of raw materials. The DRC exports a massive amount of raw materials to China and increased from a total of $100 million in 2004 to $1.6 billion in 2008 (4). In exchange, China provides massive amounts of loans directly to the central government in Kinshasa that have helped build several significant and symbolic buildings across the DRC. Additionally, Chinese companies work jointly with Congolese companies to build the telecommunications and banking industries. The Chinese stake in these ventures encourages monitoring of the exploitative practices unlike the Canadian incentives behind a bilateral relationship with the DRC.





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Madagascar and its Foreign Partners

Madagascar’s economy is heavily dependent on ODA. An estimate of over half of the country’s national budget comes from foreign aid. The three largest country donors of ODA to Madagascar are France, the United States, and Japan.

While most ODA flows into Madagascar comes from multilateral organizations, France has been most active in delivering aid to the country. Between 1980 and 2005, France “France provided 30 to 45 percent of overall official development assistance” (1). ODA provided by France is contingent on the interests of the French government. As its former colony, Madagascar is still of interest to the French. For example, France has strategic cooperation priorities to promote democratic governments that follow the French model. In addition, one of its foreign aid objectives is “to cooperate with emerging countries—for example Brazil and China— in order to better position France’s economic and strategic interests” (2). This demonstrates how France still exerts colonial like behavior amongst its ODA recipients including Madagascar.

ODA from the U.S. is highly contingent on American favorability towards the Malagasy government not necessarily the development of the Malagasy people. For example, single largest ODA commitment to Madagascar was delivered through the Millennium Challenge Account (MCC). The MCC pledged $110M to assist the Malagasy rural population to transition from an agricultural to a market economy (3). However, because this initiative sought to advance American values, it limited the investment freedom of the Malagasy government. Similarly, after the 2009 coup, the U.S. halted and removed its aid commitment to Madagascar to condemn the new undemocratically appointed government. As a result of this decision, the international community (specifically the world bank and the UN where the U.S. has the greatest influence as the largest financer) followed U.S. actions to remove aid from the country and then acted to place economic sanctions on the government. This restricted Madagascar’s economic development further subjecting the country and its people into poverty.

In order to improve development, Madagascar would need to have continued or better relations with the U.S. and French governments which suggests that the autonomy of the Malagasy government is subject to international actors.

Although Madagascar’s economy is reliant on foreign aid, its market is based on export trade. Madagascar’s most notable trading partners are France, the United States, and China. In 2013, Madagascar generated $2.21 Billion from its exported commercial products. At 23%, France is the largest export destination, then the U.S. at 8.7%, China at 6.6%, Germany (6.6.%) and South Africa (5.2%). Madagascar’s chief exports include raw nickel ($369M), knit sweaters ($179M), crustaceans ($121M), Vanilla ($119M), and spices ($177M). The majority of imports to Madagascar originate from the UAE (19%), China (14%), France (7.3%), India (6.3%), and other European countries (5.4%) (4) (5).

This data shows that France, the U.S. and China are the three key trading partners with Madagascar and are therefore the most important countries influencing the country’s economy.

China ranks highest in terms of both import and export trading partner. While France and the U.S. promote development through ODA and some foreign direct investment (FDI), China provides developmental assistance mainly through FDI. China’s investments are geared towards the following industries: “45% in manufacturing sector, 14% in construction and Public Works and 13% in telecommunication (6). On one hand, these investments have worked to fill in infrastructural gaps and created more employment opportunities for the Malagasy people. However, these investments demonstrate that the goal of Chinese investors is not to promote development but to increase Chinese access to markets. By building up infrastructure, Chinese investors are more able to take advantage of the domestic market as well as the trade markets between Europe, America and Madagascar.


(1) GEF Country Portfolio Evaluation: Madagascar (1994-2007)

(2)Regulation of Foreign Aid: France

(3) The Millennium Challenge Account

(4) The Observatory of Economic Complexity

(5) Madagascar Trade Statistics

(6) Impacts of Investment Relations Between China and Madagascar

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Foreign Relations of Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea’s key international relationships are with Spain, their former colonial power, the United States and with China.  All three relationships are bilateral agreements that are largely based upon economic interests, but the key differentiating point between all three is their political influence as well as the degree of aid all three provide to Equatorial Guinea.

Spanish influence into Equatorial Guinea dates back to the country’s independence in 1968.  As their only colonial holding in Africa, Spain was very reluctant to part ways with their prized colonial, but at the strong urging from the UN, they eventually removed all influence from the country until Teodoro Obiang’s 1979 coup, after which Spanish aid was requested. In exchange for favorable trade agreements of Equatorial Guinea’s cocoa, coffee, and timber deposits, Spain provided political support as well as bilateral assistance programs to help the new Obiang regime with a foundation to rebuild their economy after the failed regime of Francisco Nguema. This rebound was largely due to the development of the Equatoguinean cocoa industry thanks to the large private investment of Spanish corporations. However, the Spanish lost their place as the key economic partner for Equatorial Guinea during the early 1990s, as Spanish oil companies were given the rights to extract oil from the perceived offshore oil wells in the Gulf of Guinea, but they ultimately failed, paving the way for American companies like Exxon-Mobil to exert their influence over the region. Additionally, Spain’s role in harboring exiled political figures like Severo Moto have intensified relations between the two nations, which were eventually salvaged once the PSOE were voted into power in Spain shortly after.  This is due to the fact that the PSOE have made it a priority to fix these relations and in the process have found no issue with the almost unanimously contested Equatoguinean elections as well as the fact that they have intensely monitored the actions of Moto and his followers after the failed coup attempt. Overall, Spain is still a significant actor in the political sphere of Equatorial Guinea, despite the fact that their economic relationship has since been overshadowed by that of the US and China.

With the United States, Equatorial Guinea holds a bilateral agreement that is almost nearly economic based, as the US aims to protect the interest of American oil companies: Exxon-Mobil and Devon Energy who are extremely active in Gulf of Guinea. This stems from the country’s interest in attracting further US investment, as the United States are the single largest investor into Equatorial Guinea.  In fact, the US has used this economic leverage as a tool to push their program of constructive engagement in Equatorial Guinea, citing human rights violations, political freedom and labor rights as key points of contention. Given this agenda, the US pushes Obiang’s regime to adhere to improving these issues and in return further investment of American dollars into the oil industry will continue flowing into Equatorial Guinea. President Obiang has started to adhere to these wishes as since 1993, a second political party, Convergence for Social Democracy, has emerged in the previously one-party nation. Overall, US relations with Equatorial Guinea can be described as both constructive and beneficial to both parties.

Chinese relations with Equatorial Guinea are also currently tied to the Equatoguinean oil wealth, but prior to the discovery of oil in 1996, China invested heavily in the establishment of infrastructure throughout the country, as well as providing debt relief in more recent times. These relations truly came to fruition in 1985, where China invested heavily in the construction of telecommunication infrastructure,  the building of the Nkue-Mongomo road and the Bicomo Hydroelectric plant.  For China, their main interest in Equatorial Guinea prior to the discovery of oil were the nation’s large timber reserves in the Rio Muni province. Since the 1980s, China has focused on not simply economic cooperation, but also on cultural cooperation and military affairs.  This is seen through the establishment of scholarship for Equatoguinean students to study in China, assistance in medical training throughout the country, and military training.  In terms of the current import-export relationship between the two nations, China continues to grow as one of Equatorial Guinea’s largest trade partners as they trade finished products like mechanical and electrical hardware, garments, and pharmaceutical for timber and crude oil. Unlike the US, China focuses much more on the economic and cultural relationship and not the human rights implications of the Obiang regime.  Overall, China’s relationship with Equatorial Guinea is extremely strong and will continue to keep growing as a result of a new, long term “Joint Comunique” signed by both nations in 2010.

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Rwanda’s Foreign Relations: China, France and South Korea

Rwanda’s foreign relations have been steadily improving and expanding since the 1990’s. I have already discussed Rwanda’s ties to the US, which consists predominantly of foreign aid, and its relatively hostile relations with its neighbor, the DRC. Recently, Rwanda has established strong economic relations with several Asian countries, most notably China and South Korea. It has also sought to restore ties with France, with whom it had some significant disputes that caused the two states to cut off relations in the mid 2000’s. Rwanda is a member of the UN, African Union, Francophonie, and East African Community. Although it continues to have regional tensions and strained relations with the DRC, Rwanda’s relations with Burundi and Uganda have generally improved in recent years.

China: Rwanda has been one of the many African countries China has pushed to establish strong economic relations with. China is currently Rwanda’s top exporter of raw commodities such as coffee, tea and tin, followed by the DRC (somewhat surprisingly, given the extensive looting that occurs there), Malaysia, Thailand and Swaziland (CIA WorldFactbook). Since 2000, China has contributed a number of development programs in Rwanda, including programs to improve public health programs (including building two hospitals), the education system, roads and infrastructure, and agriculture. China undertook a debt cancellation program of 160 million USD in 2007 and helped build the MASHYUZA Cement Industry, which, according to a report by the Chinese embassy in Rwanda, “is playing a key role in the rebuilding of Rwanda.” The same report concludes by alluding to some popular Chinese expressions from the ancient Qing Dynasty, quite amusingly: “the 40 years of bilateral relations are a sign of, not only simple friendship, but a strong brotherhood between peoples of the two countries.” The main problem with China’s recent expanding influence in Rwanda’s economic development is that China will continue to be remiss and unconcerned with Kagame’s increasingly undemocratic behaviors, including his recent success in amending the constitution that allows him to run for a third term in 2017.

France: Following the genocide, and up until very recently, Rwanda’s relations with France have been relatively unfriendly. During the mid-2000’s, President Kagame accused France of “[playing] an active part in the preparation and execution of the genocide” (The Economist), and for harboring genocidaires in the aftermath of the crisis. In 2006, France, in turn, accused Kagame of shooting down the plane of his Hutu predecessor, which was followed by Rwanda breaking all diplomatic ties with France and changing the language taught in schools from French to English. Recently, however, the two countries have tried to reestablish ties, and in 2010 France publically apologized to Rwanda for turning a blind eye in 1994 and for allowing the genocide to occur despite a high level of knowledge of the intentions of the former Hutu government. Talks in 2011 between the two presidents focused mostly on reestablishing friendly—mostly economic—relations between the two countries going forward, a move that is mostly in the interest of sustaining Rwanda’s economic growth.

South Korea: Rwanda is one of the most recent countries to be included in South Korea’s expanding investment and development programs in Africa. Their collaborations as elected non-permanent members of the UN Security Council has led to an advance in bilateral relations that are focused on increasing foreign trade between the two countries. In 2013, Kagame announced a plan to provide high-speed 4G internet to all Rwandans as the result of a recent deal with South Korea to install extensive networks of fiber optic cables throughout the country. Other projects supported in Rwanda by South Korea include ICT development and water resource development.

Although it is promising that Rwanda is expanding its foreign relations to sustain its rapid economic growth and to decrease its dependence on foreign aid, it needs to also place efforts to expand its domestic economy and support domestic business development.



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Libyan Relations with China, the US, and Syria


China’s connections with Libya have been primarily economic. China is Libya’s fifth largest trading partner. 300 million US dollars were granted to Libya’s LAP Green Network (a telecom organization) from China in 2009. There were three Chinese financial development projects in the works in Libya before 2011. Once the war began, attention and investment to these projects was withdrawn. Instead, the Chinese shifted their focus to humanitarian aid in Libya. Three batches of infrastructural reparation aid was gifted to Libya from China in 2012. Efforts to promote business and repair damages from the civil war were clear on the part of China.


The relationship between the US and Libya has changed greatly over time. During the monarchy of Idris I, US bought large amounts of Libyan goods and oil. After Qadhafi’s socialist revolution resulted in a new regime, Libyan oil was nationalized. In order to show disapproval for this systematic change, the US cut back on their oil purchases in Libya. Furthermore, Qadhafi’s behavior as ruler led to the US cutting all ties of trade with Libya,making a statement of intolerance. His support of international terrorist organizations and humanitarian violations landed him on the US terrorist watch list.

During the Libyan Civil War of 2011, the US granted large amounts of money and weaponry to the rebels. Conspiracy theories exist that claim the US encouraged and enabled civilians to rebel in order to gain control over Libyan oil. US troops contributed to NATO, which took part in the assassination of Qadhafi and members of his bureaucracy.

Today, the US sends relief aid to Libya in order to support the millions of displaced people.


Libya and Syria have a tight cultural relationship, connecting them politically, socially, and economically. Composed mainly of Sunni Arabs, these two countries are demographically similar. The fall of Qadhafi in 2011 largely inspired the Syrian rebel uprising. Syrians believed that if Libyans had the power to overthrow a ruler as oppressive as Qadhafi, then they too had the ability to dismantle their regime. Libyans recognized their role in inspiring the Syrian civil war, and by the hundreds went to Syria to support the rebels.

During the Libyan Civil War of 2011, Assad provided key information to NATO in order to overthrow Qadhafi, proving that these dictators did not find solidarity in authoritarianism. According to Business Insider,

“In what would amount to an extraordinary betrayal of one Middle East strongman by another, President Bashar al-Assad sold out his fellow tyrant in an act of self-preservation, a former senior intelligence official in Tripoli told the Daily Telegraph.

With international attention switching from Libya to the mounting horrors in Syria, Mr Assad offered Paris the telephone number in exchange for an easing of French pressure on Damascus, according to Rami El Obeidi.”

A combination of frailty of regime and oil greed resulted in Assad supporting the overthrow of Qadhafi. Ironically enough, this North African political revolution has directly contributed to his own woes as ruler of Syria.

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Ethiopia’s Relationship with China, the US, and Eritrea

Ethiopia’s foreign relations vary significantly from country to country, and so it is not fair to characterize these relationships with a single unifying factor. I argue that currently there are about 3-4 countries that matter most to Ethiopia and its future development: China, the US (and Somalia by association), and Eritrea.

China’s relationship with Ethiopia is a very new and I think promising one. It is dominated by trade and foreign direct investment, which have both shot up since the beginning of the century. Over the years, the Chinese have been heavily investing in infrastructure which has been crucial to Ethiopia’s development as one of the fastest growing economies of the world. As I’ve pointed out before, whereas human rights and democratization prove to be potential limitations on Ethiopia’s relationship with Western countries such as the US, for example, they do not negatively affect relations with China. This is seen as a highlight for Ethiopia, and current prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn has admitted “We like the Chinese way of doing things, because they don’t say ‘do this, don’t do that’ – there are no preconditions.”

The United States’ relationship with Ethiopia is very different. It’s significant economically, in the sense that the US usually provides the most amount of foreign aid to Ethiopia, which is still a country that relies very much on foreign aid. However, it is for the most part dominated by counterterrorism measures in Somalia. The US sends large amounts of military aid to its ally country of Ethiopia to fight off the al-Shabaab and general al-Qaeda presence in Somalia. But this relationship seems to come at the cost of the freedoms of the Ethiopian citizens, a fact that the United States does not seem to want to acknowledge.

Eritrea, which has been so inextricably linked to Ethiopia, is also one of the countries that matter the most to Ethiopia. It differs from the above relations, in that there is active violent conflict between the two, and not as much positive economic or political interaction. As I’ve stated in a previous post, the amount of conflict the two countries have increases their potential for more conflict. Violence breeds violence. With each other’s support, the two countries have the potential to build each other up and become great partners, just like when they were part of one kingdom before colonialism. However, it has been difficult to rebuild their relationship amongst the constant border disputes and lingering animosity. Right now, Ethiopia and Eritrea seem to be stuck, as there can be no real progress with such mistrust between governments, but I still hold hope for the future.



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Comparing Algeria’s Foreign Relations: Saudia Arabia, China, and the United States

While Algeria has maintained and increased relations with both China and the United States, its strongest political partners remain two with common ideological traditions: the Arab League and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Algeria’s relations with Saudi Arabia and typify both of the ideological thrusts of Algeria’s foreign policy.  Saudi Arabia was one of the founding members of OPEC, which Algeria joined in 1967.  Further, Algeria’s membership exemplifies an anti-imperialist thrust in Algeria’s foreign policy agenda.  The purpose of OPEC, after all, was to prevent Western multinational oil companies from controlling the price of oil; most of the founding and current members of OPEC have a strongly anti-imperialist agenda as a result of their experiences with colonialism and military occupation in the modern era.  Algeria also championed its Arab-Islamic identity in its foreign policy.  Especially in the 1960s and 1970s, Algeria did what it could to rid itself of French influence commercially and culturally; at the same time, it has strengthened economic ties with other Arab countries.  A milestone in that regard came in 1986, when Algeria signed economic, technical, and cultural agreements.  Further, the strategic alliances that defined the 1973 Oil Crisis epitomize both ideological thrusts of Algeria’s foreign policy.  OPEC and OAPEC (Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries), which added Egypt and Syria to the coalition, declared an oil embargo because of US support of Israel during the Yom Kipuur War during 1973.  The act was both an anti-imperialist coalition with Palestine, OPEC, and OAPEC as well as an act of Islamic solidarity, as Algeria and the rest of OAPEC stood with their Islamic brothers in recognizing their right to nationhood.

Although China was the first major power to recognize Algeria as an independent state, its ties have mainly been strong commercial, rather than ideological ties.  Nonetheless, China’s ties are stronger than its those with any other Arab country, especially after the fall of Qaddafi regime in Libya and the sustained political instability in Egypt.  Algerian trade with China increased 15-fold from 2003-2014 to over nine billion dollars.  China’s trade with Algeria is still eclipsed by the EU, Algeria’s biggest trading partner; further, China’s trade with Algeria represents only 3.7% of its trade with the Arab world as a whole.  However, by 2014, Algeria was $14 billion, the 15-largest market for the Chinese globally and the second-largest in Africa (second to Nigeria).  To add to the commercial ties, in 2014, China’s unprecedented strategic partnership with the Arab country challenges Russia as the Algeria as its biggest military supplier.

Since 9/11, the United States has also developed a major significant strategic partnership with Algeria.  While the US is one of Algeria’s top trading partners and Algeria is one of the  United States’ top trading partners in the North Africa and the Middle East, the most important developments have been made in security and military cooperation, namely counter-terrorism.  Assistance was initially directed toward dealing with Al-Quaeda in the Mahgreb region as a whole, but in the wake of the Arab Spring, Algeria’s role in US foreign policy has changed.  With the recent political instability in Egypt, Algeria represents as a relatively stable Islamic regime committed to law and order and one in stark opposition to the radical Islamic elements the Arab Spring witnessed.  Of course, given Algeria’s history with fundamentalists like these in its recent civil war, their impetus to participate in this endeavor makes sense.

Although Algeria began with its foreign policy with a greater emphasis on supporting nationhood movements internationally and anti-imperialist endeavors in developing nations, the thrust of its foreign policy in the present has been on attracting large scale economic and defense partners (the United States, Algeria, and, to some extent, Saudi Arabia).  Moreover, those alliances are consistent with Algeria’s domestic policy, which has been authoritarian with an emphasis on large scale projects with focuses on large scale export and cultural development.  Algeria’s stability in a turbulent region combined with its attractiveness to foreign partners has incentivized Algeria to work with these global powers, often serving those countries’ strategic interests in exchange for the aforementioned military, economic, and technical assistance.–Saudi_Arabia_relations–France_relations

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