Geopolitics

From Taliban To Taiwan, The Limits Of Military Power

China is beefing up its military arsenal, with Taiwan as its target. However, as with the continued difficulty to control the terrain in Afghanistan, we increasingly see that military power is far from ensuring the hegemony hoped for by stronger parties.

-Analysis-

PARIS — "How many divisions does the Pope have?" once famously asked Joseph Stalin, highlighting that despite religious or political authority, military force can always prevail in geopolitics. However, in the 21st century, one can legitimately ask what military force is for.

In Afghanistan, more than three months after the Taliban's lightning victory, terrorist violence continues. It seems that members of the defeated regular army have joined the ranks of the "fundamentalist international" to continue the fight against the Taliban. In short, military victory on the ground has not solved anything. The Taliban face the resilience of those nostalgic for freedom and progress on the one hand, and Islamic fanatics on the other.

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Ethiopia's Civil War: Ethnic Atrocities Recall Balkans

Reports of torture, murder and gang rape are emerging from the civil war in northern Ethiopia. The conflict has spread across the country and an imminent collapse seems likely, spreading across the region. Now Turkey is also getting involved.

The news reaching the international community from the civil war in Ethiopia is deeply shocking. According to Amnesty International, many women in the Tigray region, where fighting is ongoing, say they have been imprisoned for weeks and gang-raped multiple times, sometimes in the presence of family members. They say some of the perpetrators assaulted them with nails and rocks.

These accusations are overwhelmingly directed at Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers who are fighting the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) for power in Ethiopia's northernmost state. At first, the Ethiopian government dismissed the accusations as "propaganda," but now the Ministry of Women's Affairs admits there is "no doubt" that rapes have taken place.

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Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam Risks Diplomatic Blowup

Built by Ethiopia, the massive Dam project is fueling tensions with Sudan and Egypt. The second filling, set to take place next month, risks making the area even more explosive.

KHARTOUM — A sandstorm throws a thick red fog on Khartoum, making the Sudanese capital look like something out of a Martian chronicle by Ray Bradbury. Locals are used to these terrible haboubs, as they're called, tempests that can stop planes and paralyze traffic for hours. Still, Mariam feels like there are more of them now than there used to be.

The energetic 30-year-old runs a "guest house" in the al-Emtidad district. It's not the most popular part of the city, but not the most neglected either. The streets perpendicular to the main asphalt axis are only stony tracks, and mixed in with the small, newish buildings are coffee shops with plastic stools.

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Ethiopia: Shutting Down The Internet As Tool For Statecraft

Though it may undermine free speech, Ethiopians seem accepting of government-ordered Internet shutdowns to curb rioting fomented online.

ADDIS ABABA — Would you sacrifice your freedom to feel safe? Following days of deadly rioting this summer, Ethiopians are increasingly clear on the answer. Not for the first time, this former communist dictatorship in northeastern Africa decided to block the Internet to stifle a growing protest movement online, after the murder of a singer from Ethiopia's main ethnic group, the Oromo.

One wonders whether Ethiopia's reality justifies limiting people's rights and liberties to keep the peace. In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin warned that "those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." It's a pertinent concept today in the face of challenges posed by new technology and online privacy.

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Future
Olivia Han

Killer Software: Boeing 737 Max And Other Fatal Computer Bugs

PARIS — The so-called millennium bug, or Y2K, was the first time many began to understand the full potential of malfunctioning software to do harm. Of course, the predicted December 31, 1999 disruption of the internet, electricity, banking systems, and transportation didn't come to pass in the end. Still, the threat of bugs (and not the crawling kind) is very much still a reality, as the world has witnessed recently with the crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX planes in less than five months, and subsequent grounding of the aircraft around the world. On Thursday, investigators in the Ethiopian Airlines crash eliminated human error from the equation, increasingly the likelihood that software was to blame.

The total death count of 346 between the Lion Air Flight from Jakarta in October and last month's Ethiopian Airlines Flight taking off from Addis Ababa is a sobering reminder that even the most intricate software systems can cause grave harm to humans. In recent decades, similar such incidents have occurred around the world:

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Migrant Lives
Magdalena Vaculciakova

Protecting Ethiopian Women Migrant Workers In Gulf Region

In 2013, Ethiopia announced a ban on domestic workers from going to the Middle East. Authorities estimate nearly 1 million Ethiopians working legally and illegally in the region. It comes with opportunity and risk, especially for women.

DEGA The house in Saudi Arabia was huge, with endless rooms blasted with cool air conditioning, recalls Tsega of her years as a migrant domestic worker. Now back in Dega, her village in northern Ethiopia, the 45-year-old mother of four describes her former life in the Gulf.

The air is thick with heat in this arid northern region of Tigray, which suffered greatly from the 1984 famine and more recent droughts caused by El Niňo. There is no electricity in Dega, no mill to process flour and women have to walk two miles to collect water.

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Economy
Emeline Wuilbercq

The Rise Of 'Made In Ethiopia' — With The Backing Of Beijing

HAWASSA — Peter Wan is smiling from ear to ear. The 50-year-old walks past huge warehouses, where dozens of Ethiopians are busy working on spinning and thread-dyeing machines. "We are in the production test stage," he says, at the Chinese factory of JP Textile at the entrance of the industrial park of Hawassa, some 270 kilometers south of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Soon, the labor force will transform the thread imported from China into cloth fabric, explains Wan. Then this fabric will be shaped into "Made in Ethiopia" shirts for brands such as Calvin Klein or Tommy Hilfiger, so they can be exported to wealthy customers in Europe and the United States. This park, which was built by the Chinese in just nine months, is officially operational. But it has not yet started to export garments.

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Geopolitics
Gebeya

Gebeya: Shaping A Robust African Software Industry

SPONSORED CONTENT

In this technology driven world, Africa is still recording low iGDP compared to its neighbouring continents. Funding, infrastructure, electricity and IT literacy are among the key challenges hampering ICT development in Africa. Currently, only one percent of African children leave schools with basic coding skills yet Africa's population has been increasing at an average of 2.5% in the last five years. Africa will also have the largest working population by 2040. With this forecast, Africa's labour force ought to be well equipped to support and nurture the effective exploitation of ICT to benefit development.

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Sources
Chloé Maurel*

How UNESCO Got It Wrong In Africa

-Analysis-

PARIS — Since 1972, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, has maintained a "World Heritage List" of sites that it deems to have an exceptional value.

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LA STAMPA
Enrico Caporale

A Global Competition For Influence In Ethiopia

Islam making major inroads in the east African nation. China pumping millions into infrastructure and industry. An Italian reporter gauges changes in the former colony.

ADDIS ABABA — On the flight from Rome to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, flight attendants hand out Chinese-language magazines. And in the city's Bole International Airport, the only cigarettes available are of the made-in-Chinese variety. Marlboros aren't an option.

Outside the airport, at the first traffic light, my taxi jockeys for position with a economy car driven by a man who appears to be Chinese. "Since they began arriving a few years ago I see them everywhere," my Ethiopian taxi driver complains. "We used to call white people ferenji, which means foreigner, but now we mainly use it for the Chinese. They built everything here: the African Union (AU) headquarters, the new light rail system, the Modjo-Hawassa highway, even the railway to Djibouti."

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LA STAMPA
Enrico Caporale

In A Small Ethiopian Town, That Fateful Choice To Flee To Europe

While the EU seeks an agreement with Libya to halt the influx of migrants across the Mediterranean, the prospect of a better life elsewhere is what all in rural Ethiopia talk about.

AGARFA — A soldier chews on a leaf of khat, a mild stimulant, and spits it on the ground. "Hey you, ferenji, how much do you want to take me with you to Italy?" he asks me, laughing with his comrade. Ferenji means stranger in Amharic, Ethiopia's official language.

In the small, far-flung town of Agarfa, in the province of Bale, the soldier is working security at an event organized by Medical Collaboration Committee (CCM), an Italian NGO. The CCM has come to this town, which lies 280 miles away from the capital of Addis Ababa, to educate locals on the risks of illegally migrating to Europe.

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Economy
Emeline Wuilbercq

The Ethiopian AI Geeks Building Cutting-Edge Robots

ADDIS ABABA The black-and-white robot stopped and its eyes, two small red lights, suddenly lit up. Rotating about 90 degrees, it recognized the blue plastic ball a few centimeters away, came forward and kicked it.

"The robot is Chinese, but the processor is made in Ethiopia," Getnet Aseffa explains. "A student developed it, and within a few months we will organize the first national football competition between robots, in the same vein as the International RoboCup tournament!"

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UNCUT: The War Against Female Genital Mutilation
Emanuela Zuccalà

Facing The Scourge Of Female Genital Mutilation In Africa

Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the first in an in-depth multimedia series of reports from Africa, and beyond, about the continuing practice of female genital mutilation.

An ordinary razor blade, a sharp knife, or a shard of broken glass. The mother and the aunts restrain the little girl while a woman is paid to inflict a pain so intense that it will never be forgotten. Afterwards the girl won't be able to move for a week, waiting for the wound to heal and the whole family praying it won't get infected.

For more than 125 million women around the world, the passage from infancy to adulthood is marked by the blood that comes from a female genital mutilation (FGM). The procedure comprises cutting the clitoris, sometimes scraping away the labia minora, up to the most extreme form: removal of all the external genitalia and sewing the incision closed leaving a small hole for menstrual flow and urine, which will later be cut open on the girl's wedding night. An obligatory ritual in certain societies, it is believed to "purify" women from their femininity, sentencing them to undergo excruciating pain to make them virgins for life, resistant to sexual pleasure, and therefore — the main aim — make them devoted and faithful wives.

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Smarter Cities
Laurence Caramel

Ethiopia's Ambitious Goal To Go Green

One of the poorest countries in the world is nevertheless setting big goals for itself and looking to richer countries for help. A 10-year, $70 billion plan aims to produce clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

MEKELLE — Kindeya Redaie has no electricity in his house, but he bought two steers with the money the state gave him in exchange for the right to put a wind turbine on his land. "I would have preferred keeping my field, but I'm proud to live where the country's first wind turbine was set up," the farmer says as he gazes up at the huge white blades above his head.

On the Tigray region plateau, in northern Ethiopia, 70-meter-high masts — 84 of them — stand amid a landscape where the dry and stony soil is still turned over with a plow. The Ashegoda Wind Farm, built by the French companies Vergnet and Alstom, is a "clean" development in one of the world's poorest nations.

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