New essay on Abyei

I have an essay out with Small Arms Survey on the situation in Abyei, which you can read here. As a taster:

The current situation is eminently productive for the GoS. The deferral of a political resolution to Abyei’s future allows it continue to reap the benefits of the oil revenue from Difra, which it is supposed to share with the Abyei area, while also placating the Missiriya, who graze unopposed in northern Abyei, without the consent of the Ngok Dinka. The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) plays a role in GoS’ current strategy. In order to minimize tensions between the two communities, the peacekeepers have created a security cordon around the centre of Abyei, in order to protect the area in which the majority of the Ngok Dinka live, and allow the Missiriya pastoralists, who annually migrate to the north of Abyei during the dry season, to graze their herds without encroaching on Ngok Dinka agricultural land. The creation of this cordon has had several unintended consequences. Whereas previously the Missiriya would negotiate with the Ngok Dinka over the routes they took through Abyei, the northern pastoralists now graze freely in the north of the territory. This undermines relations between the two communities; annual grazing meetings used to be the time when debts for the thefts and killings of the previous year were addressed, and migratory routes agreed as part of a complex calculus of alliances, kinship, and shifting ecological conditions. For many Ngok Dinka, the Missiriya now graze at will, with UNISFA effectively functioning as their bodyguards.

The conflict in Unity state, South Sudan

The production site at Tor, Unity state, South Sudan--abandoned since an SPLA-IO attack last December, the empty offices are littered with the carbonized remnants of vacation requests and invoices for fuel.

I have a new piece out with Small Arms Survey, based on field research over the last two months, on the conflict in Unity state, South Sudan. You can read it here.

I also have another new piece, also out with Small Arms Survey, on the situation in Abyei, Sudan/South Sudan.

Washington Monthly piece on Counterterrorism Training for Law Enforcement

(written with Meg Stalcup) On a bright January morning in 2010, at Broward College in Davie, Florida, about sixty police officers and other frontline law enforcement officials gathered in a lecture hall for a course on combating terrorism in the Sunshine State. Some in plain clothes, others in uniform, they drifted in clutching Styrofoam cups of coffee, greeting acquaintances from previous statewide training sessions. The instructor, Sam Kharoba, an olive-skinned man wearing rimless glasses and an ill-fitting white dress shirt, stood apart at the front of the hall reviewing PowerPoint slides on his laptop. As he got under way, Kharoba described how, over the next three days, he would teach his audience the fundamentals of Islam. “We constantly hear statements,” Kharoba began, “that Islam is a religion of peace, and we constantly hear of jihadists who are trying to kill as many non-Muslims as they can.” Kharoba’s course would establish for his students that one of these narratives speaks to a deep truth about Islam, and the other is a calculated lie. “How many terror attacks have there been since 9/11? Muslim terror attacks,” Kharoba asked the room. Silence. “Let’s start the bidding.” “Over a hundred,” someone volunteered. “I got a hundred,” Kharoba called back. Another audience member, louder now, suggested three hundred. “Three hundred!” Kharoba declared. “Over a thousand,” offered another voice in the audience. Kharoba stopped the bidding. “Over thirteen thousand,” he said. “Over thirteen thousand attacks.” He paused to let the statistic sink in.
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Who are the Mungiki?

The Mungiki, a Kenyan organisation linked to a series of gruesome crimes, have been called a lot of names recently. The New York Times described them as "a secret society that is part Sicilian mafia, part Chicago street gang, with a little local cultism sprinkled in." Kihara Mwangi, a member of Kenya's parliament, was more forthright: "These guys are devil worshippers."
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