Members of the Blue Helmets in their deployment in Mali [MINUSMA]

▲ Members of the Blue Helmets in their deployment in Mali [MINUSMA]

ESSAY / Ignacio Yárnoz


It has been 72 years since the first United Nations peacekeeping operation was deployed in Israel/Palestine to supervise the ceasefire agreement between Israel and his Arab neighbours. Since then, more than 70 peacekeeping operations have been deployed by the UN all over the world, though with special attention to the Middle East and Africa. Over these more than 70 years, hundreds of thousands of military personnel from more than 120 countries have participated in UN peacekeeping operations. Nowadays, there are 13 UN peacekeeping operations deployed in the world, seven of which are located in African countries supported by a total of 83,436 thousand troops (around 80 percent of all UN peacekeepers deployed around the world) and thousands of civilians. The largest missions in terms of number of troops and ambitious objectives are those in the Democratic Republic of Congo (20,039 troops), South Sudan (19,360 troops), and Mali (15,162 troops)[1].

Peacekeepers in Africa, as in other regions, are given broad and ambitious mandates by the Security Council which include civilian protection, counterterrorism, and counterinsurgency operations or protection of humanitarian relief aid.  However, these objectives must go hand by hand with the core UN peacekeepers principles, which are consent by the belligerent parties, impartiality (not neutrality) and the only use of force in case of self-defence[2].

Although peace operations can be important for maintaining stability and safeguarding democratic transitions, multilateral institutions such as UN face challenges related to country contributions, training, a very hostile environment and relations with host governments. It is often stated that these missions have failed largely because they were deployed in a context of ongoing wars where the belligerents themselves did not want to stop fighting or preying on civilians and yet have to manage to protect many civilians and reduce some of the worst consequences of civil war.

In addition, UN peacekeepers are believed to be deployed in the most recent missions to war zones where not all the main parties have consented. There is also mounting international pressure for peacekeepers to play a more robust role in protecting civilians. Despite the principle of impartiality, UN peacekeepers have been tasked with offensive operations against designated enemy combatants. Contemporary mandates have often blurred the lines separating peacekeeping, stabilization, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, atrocity prevention, and state-building.

Such features have often been referred to the case of the peacekeeping operation in Mali (MINUSMA) as I will try to sum up in this essay. This mission, ongoing since 2013 is on his seventh year and tensions between the parties have still not ceased due to several reasons I will further explain I this essay. Through a summarized history of the ongoing conflict, an explanation of the current military/police deployment, the engagement of third parties and an assessment on the risks and opportunities of this mission as well as an analysis of its successes and failures I will try to give a complete analysis on what MINUSMA is and its challenges.

Brief history of the conflict in Mali

During the last 8 years, Mali has been immersed in a profound crisis of Governance, socio-economic instability, terrorism and human rights violations. The crisis mentioned stems from several factors I will try to develop in this first part of the analysis. The crisis derives from long-standing structural conditions that Mali has experienced, such as ineffective Governments due to weak State institutions; fragile social cohesion between the different ethnic and religious groups; deep-rooted independent feelings among communities in the north due to marginalization by the central Government and a weak civil society among others. These conditions were far exacerbated by more recent instability, a spread corruption, nepotism and abuse of power by the Government, instability from neighbouring countries and a decreased effective capacity of the national army.

It all began in mid-January 2012 when a Tuareg movement called Mouvement National pour la Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA) and some Islamic armed groups such as Ansar Dine, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Mouvement pour l’Unicité et le Jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (MUJAO) initiated a series of attacks against Government forces in the north of the country[3]. Their primary goals for this rebel groups though different could be summarized into declaring the Northern regions of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao (the three together called Azawad) independent from the Central Government of Mali in Bamako and re-establishing the Islamic Law in these regions. The Tuareg led rebellion was reinforced by the presence of well-equipped and experienced combatants returning from Libya´s revolution of 2011 in the wake of the fall of Gadhafi’s regime[4].

By March 2012, the Malian Institutions had been overwhelmingly defeated by the rebel groups and the MNLA seemed to almost have de facto taken control of the North of Mali. As a consequence of the ineffectiveness to handle the crisis, on 22 March a series of disaffected soldiers from the units defeated by the armed groups in the north resulted in a military coup d’état led by mid-rank Capt Aamadou Sanogo. Having overthrown President Amadou Toumane Toure, the military junta took power, suspended the Constitution and dissolved the Government institutions[5]. The coup accelerated the collapse of the State in the north, allowing MNLA to easily overrun Government forces in the regions of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu and proclaim an independent State of Azawad on 6 April. The Military junta promised that the Malian army would defeat the rebels, but the ill-equipped and divided army was no match for the firepower of the rebels.

Immediately after the coup, the International Community condemned this act and lifted sanctions against Mali if the situation wasn't restored. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) appointed the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré, as the mediator on the crisis and compromised the ECOWAS would help Malian Government to restore order in the Northern region if democracy was brought back[6]. On 6 April, the military junta and ECOWAS signed a framework agreement that led to the resignation of Capt Aamadou Sanogo and the appointment of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dioncounda Traoré, as interim President of Mali on 12 April. On 17 April, Cheick Modibo Diarra was appointed interim Prime Minister and three days later, he announced the formation of a Government of national unity.

However, something happened during the rest of the year 2012 after the Malian government forces had been defeated. Those who were allies one day, became enemies of each other and former co-belligerents Ansar Dine, MOJWA, and the MNLA soon found themselves in a conflict.

Clashes began to escalate especially between the MNLA and the Islamists after a failure to reach a power-sharing treaty between the parties. As a consequence, the MNLA forces soon started to be driven out from the cities of Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao. The MNLA forces lacked as many resources as the Islamist militias and had experienced a loss of recruits who preferred the join the better paid Islamist militias. However, the MNLA stated that it continued to maintain forces and control some rural areas in the region. As of October 2012, the MNLA retained control of the city of Ménaka, with hundreds of people taking refuge in the city from the rule of the Islamists, and the city of Tinzawatene near the Algerian border. Whereas the MLNA only sought the Independence of Azawad, the Islamist militias goal was to impose the sharia law in their controlled cities, which drove opposition from the population.

Foreign intervention

Following the events of 2012, the Malian interim authorities requested United Nations assistance to build the capacities of the Malian transitional authorities regarding several key areas to the stabilization of Mali. Those areas were the reestablishment of democratic elections, political negotiations with the opposing northern militias, a security sector reform, increased governance on the entire country and humanitarian assistance.

The call for assistance came in the form of a UN deployment in mid-January 2013 authorized by Security Council resolution 2085 of 20 December 2012. This resolution gave the UN a mandate with two clear objectives: provide support to (i) the on-going political process and (ii) the security process, including support to the planning, deployment and operations of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA)[7].

The newly designated mission was planned to be an African led mission (Africa Union and ECOWAS) and funded through the UN trust fund and the European Union Africa Peace Facility. The mission was mandated several objectives: (i) contribute to the rebuilding of the capacity of the Malian Defence and Security Forces; (ii) support the Malian authorities in recovering the areas in the north; (iii) support the Malian authorities in maintaining security and consolidate State authority; (iv) provide protection to civilians and (iv) support the Malian authorities to create a secure environment for the civilian-led delivery of humanitarian assistance and the voluntary return of internally displaced persons and refugees.

However, the security situation in Mali further deteriorated in early January 2013, when the three main Islamist militias Ansar Dine, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, advanced southwards. After clashing with the Government forces north of the town of Konna, some 680 kilometres from Bamako, the Malian Army was forced to withdraw. This advance by the Islamist militias raised the alarms in the International arena as they were successfully taking control of key areas and strategic spots in the country and could soon advance to the capital if nothing was done.  

The capture of Konna by extremist groups made the Malian transitional authorities to consider requesting once again the assistance of foreign countries, in especial to its ancient colonizer France, who accepted launching a military operation to support the Malian Army. It is also true that France was already keen on intervening as soon as possible due the importance of Sévaré military airport, located 60 km south of Konna, for further operations in the Sahel area.

Operation Serval, as coined by France, was initiated on 11 January with a deployment of a total of 3,000 troops[8] and air support from Mirage 2000 and Rafale squadrons.    In addition, the deployment of AFISMA to support the French deployment was fostered. As a result, the French and African military operations alongside the Malian army successfully improved the security situation in northern areas of Mali. By the end of January, State control had been restored in most major northern towns, such as Diabaly, Douentza, Gao, Konna and Timbuktu. Most terrorist and associated forces withdrew northwards into the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains and much of their leaders such as Abdelhamid Abou Zeid were reported eliminated.

Despite taking control back to the government authorities and restoring the territorial integrity of the country, serious security challenges remained. Although the main cities had been taken back, terrorist attacks remained frequent, weapons proliferated in the rural and urban areas, drug smuggling was increasing and other criminal activities were also maintained active, which undermine governance and development in Mali. Therefore, the fight just transitioned from a territorial and conventional war to a guerrilla style warfare much more difficult to neutralise.

United Nations deployment

Following the gradual withdrawal of the French troops from Mali (Operation Serval evolved to Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region), AFISMA took responsibility to secure the stabilization and the implementation of a transitional roadmap which demanded more resources and engagement from more countries. As a consequence, AFISMA mission officially transitioned to be MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) by Security Council Resolution 2100 of April 25, 2013[9].

Seven years after, MINUSMA mission accounts with a deployment of 11,953 military personnel, 1,741 police personnel and 1,180 civilians (661 national - 585 international, including 155 United Nations Volunteers)[10] deployed in 4 different sectors: Sector North (Kidal, Tessalit, Aguelhoc) Sector South (Bamako) Sector East (Gao, Menaka, Ansongo) Sector West (Tombouctou, Ber, Diabaly, Douentza, Goundam, Mopti-Sevare). The $1 Billion budget mission (financed by UN regular budget on Peacekeeping operations) accounts with personnel from more than 50 different countries being Chad, Bangladesh or Burkina Faso the biggest contributors in terms of number of troops (Figure 1).

The command and control of the ground forces is headed by both commanders Lieutenant General Dennis Gyllensporre (military deployment) and MINUSMA Police Commissioner Issoufou Yacouba (police deployment). Regarding the political leadership of the mission, the Special Representative of the Secretary-general (SRSG) and Head of MINUSMA is Mr. Mahamat Saleh Annadif, an experienced diplomat on peace processes in Africa and former minister of Foreign Affairs of Chad.

Other international actors engaged

MINUSMA however is not the only international actor engaged in the security and political process of Mali. Institutions as the European Union are also in the ground helping specifically on the training of the Malian Army and helping develop their military capabilities.

The European Union Training Mission in Mali[11] (EUTM Mali) is composed of almost 600 soldiers from 25 European countries including 21 EU members and 4 non-member states (Albania, Georgia, Montenegro and Serbia). Since the beginning of the mission initially designed to end 15 months after the start in 2013 (First Mandate), there have been several extensions of the periods to end the mission by Council Decision (Second Mandate 2014-2016, Third Mandate 2016-2018) until today where we are on the Fourth Mandate (Extended until 2020 by Council Decision 2018/716/CFSP in May 2018). The strategic objectives of the 4th Mandate are:

  • 1st to contribute to the improvement of the capabilities of the Malian Armed Forces under the control of the political authorities.

  • 2nd to support G5 Sahel Joint Force, through the consolidation and improvement of the operational capabilities of its Joint Force, strengthening regional cooperation to address common security threats, especially terrorism and illegal trafficking, especially of human beings.

Regarding this last actor mentioned, the G5 Sahel Joint force (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad) is an intergovernmental cooperation framework created on 16 February 2014 and seeks to fight insecurity and support development in the Sahel Region with the train and support of the European Union and external donors.

Its first operation, launched on July 2017, consisted in a Cross-Border Joint Force settled in Bamako to fight terrorism, cross-border organized crime and human trafficking in the G5 Sahel zone in the Sahel region. The United Nations Security Council welcomed the creation of this Joint Force in Resolution 2359 of 21 June 2017, which was sponsored by France[12]. At full operational capability, the Joint Force will have 5,000 soldiers (seven battalions spread across three zones: West, Centre and East). It is active in a 50 km strip on either side of the countries’ shared borders. Later on, a counter-terrorism brigade is to be deployed to northern Mali.

Finally, as I explained before, France gradually withdrew from Mali and transformed Operation Serval to Operation Barkhane[13], a force, with approximately 4,500 soldiers, spread out between Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad to counter the terrorist threat on these territories. With a budget of nearly €600m per year, it is France’s largest overseas operation and engages activities such as combat patrols, intelligence gathering and filling the Governance gap of the absent Government institutions.

Troop and Police contributors to MINUSMA [Source: UN] 

Retrieved from MINUSMA Fact Sheet[25]


Assessment on the situation of MINUSMA

Since its establishment, MINUSMA has achieved some of its objectives in its early stages. From 2013 to 2016, the situation in Northern Mali improved, the numbers of civilians killed in the conflict decreased and large numbers of displaced persons could return home. In addition, MINUSMA supported the celebration of new elections in 2013 and assisted the peace process mainly between the Tuareg rebels and the Government. The peace process culminated in the 15 May 2015 with the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, commonly referred as the Algiers Agreement[14][15].

The Algiers Agreement was an accord concluded between the Malian Government and two coalitions of armed groups that were fighting the government and against each other, being (i) the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and (ii) the Platform of armed groups (the Platform). Although imperfect, the peace agreement gave the basis to a continued dialogue and steps were made by the Government regarding the devolution of competences to regional institutions, laws of reconciliation and reintegration of combatants and resources devoted to infrastructure projects in the northern regions[16].

However, since 2016 the situation has deteriorated in several aspects. Violence has increased as jihadist groups have been attacking MINUSMA forces, the Forces Armées Maliennes (FAMA), and the Algiers Agreement signatories (CMA and the platform). As a consequence, MINUSMA has sustained an extraordinary number of fatalities compared to other recent UN peace operations.

Since the beginning of the Mission in 2013, 206 MINUSMA peacekeepers have died during service in Mali[17]. In the last report of Secretary General, it is noted that during the months of October, November and December 2019, there have been 68 attacks against MINUSMA troops in the regions of Mopti (46), Kidal (9), Ménaka (5), Timbuktu (4) and Gao (4) resulting in the deaths of two peacekeepers and eight contractors and in injury to five peacekeepers, one civilian and two contractors[18].

During this same period, the Malian Armed Forces have also experienced a loss of 193 soldiers and 126 injured. The deadliest attacks occurred in Boulikessi and Mondoro (Mopti Region) on 30 September; in Indelimane (Ménaka Region) on 1 November; and in Tabankort (Ménaka Region) on 18 November. MINUSMA provided support for medical evacuations for the national defence and security forces, as well as fuel and equipment to reinforce some camps.

In addition, during this last 3 months, there have been 269 incidents, in which 200 civilians were killed, 96 civilians were injured and 90 civilians were abducted. More than 85 per cent of deadly attacks against civilians took place in Mopti Region. Between 14 and 16 November, a series of attacks against Fulani villages in Ouankoro commune resulted in the killing of at least 37 persons.

As we can see from the data, Mopti region has further deteriorated regarding civilian protection and increased terrorist activity. What is more surprising is that this region in not located in the north but rather in the centre of the country. Mopti and Ségou regions in central Mali are where violence is increasingly spreading. Two closely intertwined drivers of violence can be distinguished: interethnic violence and jihadist violence against the state and its supporters.

The attacks directed primarily towards the Malian security forces and MINUSMA by jihadists have been committed by the jihadist group Katiba Macina, which is part of the GSIM (Le Groupe de Soutien à l'Islam et aux Musulmans), a merger organisation resulting from the fusion of Ansar Dine, forces from Al-Qaïda au Maghreb Islamique (AQMI), Katiba Macina and Katiba Al-Mourabitoune. This organisation formed in 2017 has triggered the retreat of an already relatively absent state in the central areas. The Katiba exerts violence against representatives of the state (administrators, teachers, village chiefs, etc.) in the Mopti region, provoking that only 30 to 40 per cent of the territorial administration personnel remains present. Additionally, only 1,300 security forces are stationed across the vast region (spanning 79,000 km²). 

Between the Jihadist activities and the retaliation activities by government forces, there has been a collateral consequence as self-defence militias have proliferated. However, these militias have not only exerted self-defence but also criminal activities and competition over scarce local re­sources. To this problem we have to add the ethnic component where violence exerted by militias is associated with ethnic differences (mainly the Dogon and Fulani). Jihadists have instrumentalised this rivalry to gain sympathizers and recruits and turned the radicalisation problem and the interethnic rivalry a vicious trap. The ethnicisation of the conflict reinforces the stigmatisation of the Fulani as “terrorists”. Meanwhile, the state has tolerated and even cooperated with the Dogon militia to cope with the terrorist threat. However, this groups are supposedly responsible for human rights violations, which again fosters radicalisation among the Fulani population feeling they are left alone in this conflict. As a matter of fact, the Dogon Militia is alleged to be responsible of the 23 March assassination of 160 Fulani in the village of Ogossagou (Mopti Region)[19].

Northern Mali has not remained calmed meanwhile, the Ménaka region has also experienced a violence raise. Recent counterterrorism efforts led by ethnically based militias resulted in a counterproductive effects leading to human rights violations and atrocities between Tuareg Daoussahaq and Fulani communities.  Due to again the absence Malian security forces or MINUSMA blue helmets, civilians have had no choice but to rely on their own self-protection or on armed groups present in the area, escalating the vicious problem of violence as in the Mopti region. 

Strategic dilemmas of MINUSMA

Given this situation, several dilemmas arise in the current situation in which the mission is. The original Mandate of MINUSMA for 5 years has already expired and now the mission is in a phase of renewal year by year, which makes it a suitable time to rethink the overall path where this mission should continue.

The fist dilemma arises given the split of the violent spots between the north and the centre of the country. MINUSMA was originally set up to stabilize the conflict in the north, but MINUSMA’s 2019 Resolution 2480[20] has derived some attention and resources to the central regions and particularly on Protection of Civilians while maintaining its presence in the north too. However, the only problem is that this division on two has not come hand in hand with an increase in resources devoted to the mission, which means that attention paid to the central regions may be in spite of gains made in the north, making the MINUSMA mandate even more unrealistic.

This dilemma raises the problem of financing of the mission. As the years passes, financers of the mission (those that contribute to the General Budget on Peace Keeping Operations of UN) such as the US are getting impatient of not seeing results to a mission where $1 Billion is devoted out of the around $8 Billion of the General Budget. The problem is that for MINUSMA to accomplish its mission in Northern Mali, it has to make an enormous military and logistical effort. The ongoing violent situation calls for security precautions that tie up scarce resources which are no longer available for carrying out the mandate. To illustrate the problem, we can look at the expenditures of the mission and discover that around 80 per cent of its military resources are devoted to securing its own infrastructure and the convoys on which the mission depends to supply its bases[21].

A final dilemma is related to the development of the terrorist threat. As we have analysed in this article, today´s conflict in Mali is about terrorism and therefore requires counterterrorist strategies. However, there are people that state that MINUSMA should focus on the politics part of the conflict stressing its efforts on the peace agreement. Current counterterrorism efforts conducted by the Malian Army are highly problematic as they have fuelled local opposition due to its poor human rights commitment. It has been reported the use of ethnic proxy militias (Such as the Dogon militias in Mopti region) who are responsible for committing atrocities against the civilian population. This makes the Central Government to be an awkward and not very trustworthy partner for MINUSMA. At the same time, returning to political tasks alone may further destabilize the country and possibly the whole Sahel-West African region.


There is no doubt MINUSMA operates hostile environment where around half of all blue helmets killed world­wide through malign acts since 2013 have lost their lives. However, MINUSMA has been heavily criticised by public opinion in Mali and accused of passivity regarding protection of civilians whereas critics say, blue helmets have placed their own security above the rest. The has contributed to this public perception by using the mission’s problems as a scapegoat for its own failures. However, the mis­sion (with its successes and failures) brings more advantages than inconveniences to the overall process of stabilization of Mali[22].

As many diplomats in Bamako and other public officials stress, the mission and its chief, Maha­mat Saleh Annadif, play an important role as mediators both in Bamako politics and with respect to the peace agreement. We cannot discredit the mission of its contribution to Mali´s stabilisation. As a matter of fact, it is legitimate to claim that the situation would be much worse with­out MINUSMA. Yet, the mission has not stopped the spread of violence but rather slowed down the deterioration process of the situation.

While much presence is still needed in northern Mali, we should not forget that the core of the problem to Mali´s instability is partly on the political arena and therefore needs mediation. Therefore, importance of continuing political and military support to the peace process should not be underestimated.

At the same time, we have seen the situation over protection of civilians has worsened in the central regions, which requires additional resources. Enhancing MINUSMA’s outreach and representation might prevent the central regions from collapsing, though solutions need to be found to ensure stability in the long term through mediation too. Further expanding the mission in the central regions without affecting the deployment in the north and, therefore, not risking the stability of those regions, would require that MINUSMA have additional resources. This would clearly be the best option for Mali.

Resources could for instance be devoted to improve the lack of mobility in the form of helicopters and armoured carriers to make it possible for the mission to expand its scope beyond the vicinity of its bases. Staying in the bases makes MINUSMA more of a target than a security provider and only provides security to its nearby zones where the base is physically present. In addition, the most dangerous missions are carried out by African peacekeepers despite lacking adequate means whereas European countries´ peacekeepers are mostly based in MINUSMA’s headquarters in Bamako, Gao, or Timbuktu. While European peacekeepers possess more sophisticated equipment such as surveillance drones and air support, African troops do not benefit from those and have to face the most challenging geographical and security environments escorting logistical convoys[23].

Additionally, by accelerating the re-integration of former rebels to the Malian security forces, encouraging Malian police training, and demonstrating increased presence through joint patrols in most instable areas to protect civilians are key to minimize the threat of further violence. Increased state visibility as we have analysed in this essay has driven to insecurity situations. Consequently, if it can be as much of the problem, it can also be the solution to re-establish some of its legitimacy alongside with the signatories of the Peace Accord to show good faith and engagement in the peace process[24]

In the end, any contribution MINUSMA can make will depend on the willingness of Malians to strive for an effective and inclusive government on the one hand and the commitment of the International community on the other. Supporting such a long-term process cannot be done on the cheap. Therefore, countries cannot continue to request to do more with the same or even less resources.



[1] United Nations Peacekeeping. (n.d.). Where we operate. [online] Available at [Accessed 21 Dec. 2019].

[2] Renwick, D. (2015). Peace Operations in Africa. [online] Council on Foreign Relations. Available at [Accessed 21 Dec. 2019].

[3] Welsh, M. Y. (2013, January 17). Making sense of Mali's armed groups. Al Jazeera. Available at [Accessed 22 Dec. 2019].

[4] Timeline on Mali. (n.d.). New York Times. Available at [Accessed 22 Dec. 2019].

[5] Oberlé, T. (2012, March 22). Mali : le président renversé par un coup d'État militaire. Le Figaró. Available at [Accessed 26 Dec. 2019].

[6] MINUSMA. (n.d.). History. [online] Available at [Accessed 26 Dec. 2019].

[7] (2012). Security Council Resolution 2085 - UNSCR. [online] Available at  [Accessed 23 Dec. 2019].

[8] BBC News. (2013). France confirms Mali intervention. [online] Available at  [Accessed 24 Dec. 2019].

[9] Security Council Resolution 2100 - UNSCR. (2013). Available at [Accessed 2 Jan. 2019].

[10] MINUSMA. (n.d.). Personnel. [online] Available at [Accessed 26 Dec. 2019].

[11] EUTM Mali. (n.d.). DÉPLOIEMENT - EUTM Mali. [online] Available at [Accessed 25 Dec. 2019].

[12] France Diplomatie: Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. (n.d.). G5 Sahel Joint Force and the Sahel Alliance. [online] Available at  [Accessed 27 Dec. 2019].

[13] (2019). Operation Barkhane - Mapping armed groups in Mali and the Sahel. [online] Available at [Accessed 25 Dec. 2019].


[15] Jezequel, J. (2015). Mali's peace deal represents a welcome development, but will it work this time? | Jean-Hervé Jezequel. Available at [Accessed 8 Jan. 2020].

[16] Nyirabikali, D. (2015). Mali Peace Accord: Actors, issues and their representation | SIPRI. Available at [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

[17] MINUSMA. MINUSMA Fact SheetAvailable at [Accessed 2 Jan. 2019].

[18] (n.d.). "UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali" OR MINUSMA - United Nations Digital Library System. [online] Available at [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

[19] McKenzie, D. (2019). Ogossagou massacre is latest sign that violence in Mali is out of control. Available at [Accessed 4 Jan. 2019].

[20] (2019). Security Council Resolution 2480 - UNSCR. [online] Available at [Accessed 10 Jan. 2019].

[21] United Nations Digital Library System. (2019). Budget for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali for the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. [online] Available at  [Accessed 4 Jan. 2020].

[22] Van der Lijn, J. (2019). The UN Peace Operation in Mali: A Troubled Yet Needed Mission - Mali. [online] ReliefWeb. Available at [Accessed 30 Dec. 2019].

[23] Lyammouri, R. (2018). After Five Years, Challenges Facing MINUSMA Persist. Available at [Accessed 6 Jan. 2020].

[24] Tull, D. (2019). UN Peacekeeping in Mali. [online] Available at [Accessed 25 Dec. 2019].

[25] MINUSMA. MINUSMA Fact Sheet. Available at [Accessed 2 Jan. 2019].



United Nations Peacekeeping. (n.d.). Where we operate. [online] Available at [Accessed 21 Dec. 2019].

Renwick, D. (2015). Peace Operations in Africa. [online] Council on Foreign Relations. Available at [Accessed 21 Dec. 2019].

Timeline on Mali. (n.d.). New York TimesAvailable at [Accessed 22 Dec. 2019].

Welsh, M. Y. (2013, January 17). Making sense of Mali's armed groups. Al JazeeraAvailable at [Accessed 22 Dec. 2019].

MINUSMA. (n.d.). History. [online] Available at [Accessed 26 Dec. 2019].

Oberlé, T. (2012, March 22). Mali : le président renversé par un coup d'État militaire. Le FigaróAvailable at [Accessed 26 Dec. 2019]. (2012). Security Council Resolution 2085 - UNSCR. [online] Available at [Accessed 23 Dec. 2019].

BBC News. (2013). France confirms Mali intervention. [online] Available at [Accessed 24 Dec. 2019].

MINUSMA. (n.d.). Personnel. [online] Available at [Accessed 26 Dec. 2019].

EUTM Mali. (n.d.). DÉPLOIEMENT - EUTM Mali. [online] Available at [Accessed 25 Dec. 2019].

France Diplomatie: Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. (n.d.). G5 Sahel Joint Force and the Sahel Alliance. [online] Available at [Accessed 27 Dec. 2019]. (2019). Operation Barkhane - Mapping armed groups in Mali and the Sahel. [online] Available at [Accessed 25 Dec. 2019]. (2015). AGREEMENT FOR PEACE AND RECONCILIATION IN MALI RESULTING FROM THE ALGIERS PROCESS. [online] Available at [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020]. (n.d.). "UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali" OR MINUSMA - United Nations Digital Library System. [online] Available at [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

United Nations Digital Library System. (2019). Budget for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali for the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. [online] Available at  [Accessed 4 Jan. 2020].

Van der Lijn, J. (2019). The UN Peace Operation in Mali: A Troubled Yet Needed Mission - Mali. [online] ReliefWeb. Available at [Accessed 30 Dec. 2019].

Tull, D. (2019). UN Peacekeeping in Mali. [online] Available at [Accessed 25 Dec. 2019].

McKenzie, D. (2019). Ogossagou massacre is latest sign that violence in Mali is out of control. Available at [Accessed 4 Jan. 2019]. (2019). Security Council Resolution 2480 - UNSCR. [online] Available at [Accessed 10 Jan. 2019].

Security Council Resolution 2100 - UNSCR. (2013). Available at [Accessed 2 Jan. 2019].

Nyirabikali, D. (2015). Mali Peace Accord: Actors, issues and their representation | SIPRI. Available at [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

Lyammouri, R. (2018). After Five Years, Challenges Facing MINUSMA Persist. Available at [Accessed 6 Jan. 2020].

Jezequel, J. (2015). Mali's peace deal represents a welcome development, but will it work this time? | Jean-Hervé Jezequel. Available at [Accessed 8 Jan. 2020].

Categorías Global Affairs: África Seguridad y defensa Ensayos

[Scott Martelle, William Walker's Wars. How One Man's Private Army Tried to Conquer Mexico, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Chicago Review Press. Chicago, 2019. 312 p.]

RESEÑAEmili J. Blasco

William Walker's Wars. How One Man's Private Army Tried to Conquer Mexico, Nicaragua, and HondurasLa historia de la injerencia de Estados Unidos en América Latina es larga. En pleno Destino Manifiesto de expansión hacia el Oeste de mediados de siglo XIX, para extender el país de costa a costa, también hubo intentos de ampliar la soberanía hacia el Sur. A quienes ocuparon la Casa Blanca les bastó con la mitad de México, que completaba un holgado acceso al Pacífico, pero hubo iniciativas personales de intento de compra e incluso de conquista de territorios centroamericanos.

Una de esas iniciativas fue protagonizada por William Walker, que al frente de varios cientos de filibusteros –la Falange Americana–, arrebató la presidencia de Nicaragua y soñó con un imperio esclavista que atrajera las inversiones de los sureños estadounidenses si la esclavitud se abolía en Estados Unidos. Walker, de Tennessee, intentó primero crear una república en Sonora, para integrar ese territorio mexicano en EEUU, y luego centró su interés en Nicaragua, que entonces resultaba un paso atractivo para los estadounidenses que querían cruzar el istmo centroamericano con destino a las minas de oro de California, donde él mismo había buscado fortuna. Desautorizado y detenido varias veces por las autoridades de EEUU, debido a los problemas que les ocasionaba con los gobiernos vecinos, finalmente fue expulsado de Nicaragua por las armas y murió fusilado cuando intentaba regresar asentando un pie en Honduras.

El libro de Scott Martelle es tanto un retrato del personaje –alguien sin especiales dotes de liderazgo y con una apariencia más bien delicada impropia de un jefe de mercenarios, que no obstante supo generar expectativas lucrativas entre quienes le siguieron (2.518 estadounidenses llegaron a alistarse)–, como una crónica de sus campañas militares al Sur de Estados Unidos. Igualmente describe bien el ambiente a mitad del siglo XIX en ciudades como San Francisco y Nueva Orleans, repletas de migrantes procedentes de otras partes del país y en tránsito hacia donde les llevara la fortuna.

También ofrece un detallado relato de la empresa desarrollada por el magnate Vanderbilt para establecer una ruta, inaugurada en 1851, que utilizaba el río San Juan para llegar al lago de Nicaragua y de allí salir al Pacífico, con ánimo de establecer una conexión ferroviaria y el ulterior propósito de construir en pocos años un canal. Aunque el trayecto por tierra era más largo que el que en ese momento también se trazaba en similares condiciones en el istmo de Panamá, el desplazamiento en barco desde EEUU hasta Nicaragua era más breve que el que obligaba llegar hasta Panamá. Esto último explica que durante la segunda mitad del siglo XIX el proyecto de canal de Nicaragua tuviera más adeptos en Washington que el de Panamá.

Si bien Panamá es uno de los símbolos de la injerencia de EEUU en su «patio trasero», el éxito de la obra del canal transoceánico y su devolución a los panameños desactivan en gran medida una «leyenda negra» que sigue en pie en el caso nicaragüense. Nicaragua es probablemente el país centroamericano que más ha experimentado el «imperialismo» de EEUU. El episodio de Walker (1855-1857) marca un comienzo; luego siguieron las intervenciones militares del propio Gobierno estadounidense (1912-1933), el estrecho apoyo de Washington a la dictadura de los Somoza (1937-1979) y la implicación directa en el combate contra la Revolución Sandinista (1981-1990).

Walker llegó a Nicaragua atraído por el interés estadounidense en el paso interoceánico y con la excusa de ayudar a uno de los bandos que se enfrentaban en una de las tantas guerras civiles entre conservadores y liberales que se daban en las excolonias españolas. Elevado a jefe del Ejército, en 1856 fue elegido presidente de un país en el que apenas pudo controlar el área cuyo centro era la ciudad de Granada, en la orilla norte del lago de Nicaragua.

A medida que asentó su poder se alejó de cualquier idea inicial de integración de Nicaragua en EEUU y soñó con forjar un imperio centroamericano que incluso incluyera México y Cuba. En su estrategia entró la esclavitud, que en Nicaragua se había abolido en 1838 y él la reinstauró en 1856. La imaginó como un medio de impedir que Washington renunciara a ampliar su soberanía a esos territorios, dados los equilibrios internos en EEUU entre estados esclavistas y no esclavistas, y como atracción de capital de los esclavistas sureños. Finalmente fue expulsado del país en 1857 gracias el empuje de un ejército reunido por los países vecinos. En 1860 intentó un regreso, pero fue apresado y fusilado en Trujillo (Honduras). Su aventura estuvo alimentada por la creencia en la superioridad del hombre blanco y anglosajón, que le llevó a despreciar las aspiraciones de los pueblos hispanos y a sobreestimar la capacidad bélica de sus mercenarios.

El libro de Martelle responde más a un propósito historicista que divulgativo, por lo que su lectura no es tanto para el gran público como para los interesados específicamente en el fulibusterismo de William Walker: un episodio, en cualquier caso, de conveniente conocimiento sobre el pasado centroamericano y la relación de Estados Unidos con el resto del Hemisferio Occidental.

Categorías Global Affairs: Seguridad y defensa Reseñas de libros Latinoamérica

Personal de ACNUR construyendo una carpa para refugiados venezolanos en la ciudad colombiana de Cúcuta [ACNUR]

▲ Personal de ACNUR construyendo una carpa para refugiados venezolanos en la ciudad colombiana de Cúcuta [ACNUR]

COMENTARIOPaula Ulibarrena

Las restrictivas medidas impuestas por los estados para tratar de contener la epidemia de coronavirus implican para millones de personas dejar de ir a trabajar o hacerlo desde casa. Pero no todos pueden parar su actividad o pasar al teletrabajo. Hay trabajadores por cuenta propia, pequeños comercios, tiendas de barrio, comerciantes ambulantes o vendedores callejeros, y artistas independientes que viven prácticamente al día. Para ellos y para amuchas otras personas que queden sin ingresos o los vean reducidos, los gastos seguirán igualmente corriendo: pago de servicios, alquileres, hipotecas, colegiaturas y, por supuesto, alimentos y medicinas.

Todos estos impactos sociales que está acarreando la crisis por el coronavirus ya empiezan a cuestionarse entre quienes viven en la “zona roja” de la epidemia. En Italia, por ejemplo, algunos colectivos políticos han demandado que las ayudas no sean para las grandes empresas, sino para este conjunto de trabajadores precarios o familias necesitadas y están exigiendo una “renta básica de cuarentena”.

Planteamientos semejantes están surgiendo en otras partes del mundo e incluso ha llevado a que algunos mandatarios a adelantarse a las exigencias de la población. En Francia, Emmanuel Macron anunció que el gobierno asumirá los créditos, y suspendió el pago de alquileres, impuestos y recibos de luz, gas y agua. En Estados Unidos el gobierno de Donald Trump anunció que se enviarán cheques a cada familia para enfrentar los gastos o riesgos que implica la pandemia.

En otras grandes crisis el Estado ha salido a rescatar a las grandes empresas y bancos. Ahora se reclama que los recursos públicos se dediquen a rescatar a los más necesitados.

En toda crisis, son los más desfavorecidos los que peor lo pasan, hoy hay en el mundo más de 126 millones de personas que necesitan asistencia humanitaria, incluidos 70 millones de desplazados forzosos. Dentro de estos colectivos comenzamos a conocer los primeros casos de infectados (campo de desplazados de Ninive-Irak, Somalia, Afganistán, Nigeria, Sudán, Venezuela….), el informe de casos en Burkina Faso es particularmente ilustrativo del desafío de responder en un contexto donde la atención médica es limitada. Los refugiados malienses que una vez fueron desplazados a Burkina Faso están siendo obligados a regresar a Malí, y la violencia continua inhibe el acceso humanitario y médico a las poblaciones afectadas.

Muchos campos de refugiados sufren de insuficientes instalaciones de higiene y saneamiento, lo que crea condiciones propicias para la propagación de enfermedades. Los planes oficiales de respuesta en los Estados Unidos, Corea del Sur, China y Europa requieren distanciamiento social, lo que es físicamente imposible en muchos campamentos de desplazados y en los contextos urbanos abarrotados en los que viven muchas personas desplazadas por la fuerza. Jan Egeland, director general del Consejo Noruego para los Refugiados, advirtió que COVID-19 podría "diezmar las comunidades de refugiados". 

Jacob Kurtzer, del Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) de Washington, advierte que las políticas nacionales de aislamiento en reacción a la propagación de COVID-19 también tienen consecuencias negativas para las personas que enfrentan emergencias humanitarias. Así el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR) y la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones han anunciado el fin de los programas de reasentamiento de refugiados, ya que algunos gobiernos anfitriones han detenido la entrada de refugiados e impusieron restricciones de viaje como parte de su respuesta oficial.

Para agravar estos desafíos está la realidad de que la financiación humanitaria, que apenas puede satisfacer la demanda mundial y que puede verse afectada ya que los estados donantes consideran que en este momento deben enfocar dichos fondos a la respuesta al Covid-19.

En el lado contrario el coronavirus podría suponer una oportunidad de reducción de algunos conflictos armados. Por ejemplo, la Unión Europea ha pedido el cese de las hostilidades y el cese de las transferencias militares en Libia para permitir que las autoridades se concentren en responder a la emergencia de salud. El Estado Islámico ha publicado repetidos mensajes en su boletín informativo de Al-Naba pidiendo a los combatientes que no viajen a Europa y que reduzcan los ataques mientras se concentran en mantenerse libres del virus. 

Kurtzer sugiere que esta es una oportunidad para reflexionar sobre la naturaleza del trabajo humanitario en el extranjero y garantizar que no se pase por alto. Curiosamente los países desarrollados se enfrentan a una vulnerabilidad médica real, de hecho Médicos Sin Fronteras ha abierto instalaciones en cuatro ubicaciones en Italia. Cooperar con organizaciones humanitarias confiables a nivel nacional será de vital importancia para responder a las necesidades de la población y al mismo tiempo desarrollar una mayor comprensión del trabajo vital que realizan en entornos humanitarios en el extranjero.

Categorías Global Affairs: Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Comentarios Global

[Maria Zuppello, Il Jihad ai Tropici. Il patto tra terrorismo islamico e crimine organizzato in America Latina. Paese Edizioni. Roma, 2019. 215 p.]

RESEÑA / Emili J. Blasco

Il Jihad ai Tropici. Il patto tra terrorismo islamico e crimine organizzato in America LatinaNormalmente vinculamos la yihad con Oriente Medio. Si acaso, también con el Sachel africano, abriendo el mapa hacia el oeste, o con la frontera de Afganistán, Pakistán e India, abriéndolo hacia el este. Sin embargo, Latinoamérica tiene también un sitio en esa geografía. Lo tiene como lugar para la financiación de la lucha terrorista –la cocaína supone un negocio que los islamistas aprovechan, como ocurre con la heroína en el caso concreto de los talibanes– y también como espacio en el que pasar desapercibido, fuera de radar (las playas caribeñas o brasileñas son el último lugar que se imaginaría como escondite de yihadistas).

Yihad en los trópicos, de la investigadora italiana Maria Zuppello, se ocupa precisamente de ese aspecto menos conocido del yihadismo mundial: los yihadistas de la caipiriña, por decirlo de un modo gráfico, para acentuar la normalidad con la que viven esos elementos radicalizados en el contexto latinoamericano, aunque se trata de redes criminales más siniestras de lo que puede sugerir el nombre.

La investigación de Zuppello, que tiene como subtítulo “el pacto entre terrorismo islámico y crimen organizado en América Latina”, se ocupa de diversos países, aunque es en Brasil donde la autora sitúa las principales conexiones con el resto de la región y con las estructuras internacionales de distintos grupos yihadistas. En concreto, señala la vinculación entre el líder religioso Imran Hosein, que propaga doctrinas salafistas, y el atentado contra la sala de fiestas Bataclan de París, pues su predicación tuvo una especial responsabilidad en la radicalización de uno de los terroristas, Samy Amimour. Zuppello también analiza los contactos cruzados de los brasileños que fueron detenidos en 2016 en la operación Hashtag, en la recta final de la preparación de los Juegos Olímpicos de Rio de Janeiro.

El libro de Zuppello comienza con una presentación a cargo de Emanuele Ottolenghi, investigador que trabaja en la Fundación para la Defensa de las Democracias, un think tank de Washington. Ottolenghi es un experto en la presencia de Hezbolá en América Latina, sobre la que ha escrito numerosos artículos.

En esa presentación, Ottolenghi destaca la colaboración establecida entre elementos yihadistas y ciertos niveles de la izquierda latinoamericana, especialmente la bolivariana. “Los mensajes extremistas difieren poco de la retórica de la revolución antiimperialista de la izquierda radical, profundamente enraizada durante décadas en América Latina”, afirma. Esto explica “el atractivo de la revolución islámica para los descendientes de los incas en la remota comunidad andina de Abancay, a cuatro horas de viaje de Machu Picchu, y para los revolucionarios cubanos y salvadoreños (ahora dedicados a extender la palabra de Jomeini en América Central)”.

Para Ottolenghi, “el tema central de la alianza roji-verde entre bolivarianos e islamistas es la llamada resistencia frente el imperialismo estadounidense. Tras esa retórica revolucionaria, sin embargo, hay más. La creación de una alianza estratégica entre Teherán y Caracas ha abierto la puerta de Latinoamérica a los guardias revolucionarios iraníes y a Hezbolá. Venezuela se ha convertido en un centro para los agentes de Irán en la región”.

Los tráficos ilícitos generan millones de dinero negro que es lavado a través de circuitos internacionales. En ese proceso tienen importancia “las comunidades de la diáspora libanesa”, en áreas como La Guaira (entre Venezuela y Colombia), la isla Margarita (Venezuela), la zona franca de Colón (Panamá) y la Triple Frontera (entre Brasil, Paraguay y Argentina)

Precisamente esa Triple Frontera ha sido el lugar habitual al que referirse a la hora de hablar de Hezbolá en Latinoamérica. Los atentados ocurridos en Buenos Aires en 1992 y 1994 contra la Embajada de Israel y la AMIA, respectivamente, tuvieron allí su origen operativo y desde entonces se ha documentado con frecuencia la vinculación financiera de ese rincón geográfico con el grupo extremista chií. Desde la llegada de Hugo Chávez al poder se produjo una convergencia entre Venezuela e Irán que amparó la obtención de pasaportes venezolanos por parte de radicales islamistas, los cuales también fueron haciéndose con parte del negocio del narcotráfico a medida que el propio Chávez metía al estado venezolano en el negocio de la cocaína.

La convergencia de intereses entre las redes de crimen organizado en la región y los elementos yihadistas lleva a plantearnos, según Zuppello, si “Latinoamérica acabará siendo el nuevo cajero automático para la financiación de la yihad global”, o incluso “en algo más: un escondite de combatientes extranjeros en fuga o una nueva plataforma para ataques, o ambos”.

Uno de los aspectos concretos a los que se refiere Zuppello es el sector del halal y sus certificaciones, que está creciendo exponencialmente, lo que ha provocado la preocupación de las autoridades de la lucha antiterrorista en diversos países, que acusan a ese sector de ocultar la financiación del terrorismo y el lavado de dinero. El comercio de carne halal ha dado cobertura a docenas de inspectores de carne iraníes, que se han asentado de manera permanente en la región.

Investigaciones como la realizada en Yihad en los trópicos han llevado a que 2019 por primera vez diversos países latinoamericanos aceptaran reconocer a Hezbolá como grupo terrorista.

Categorías Global Affairs: Seguridad y defensa Reseñas de libros Latinoamérica

La Alianza mantiene su acento sobre Rusia, pero por primera vez expresa su preocupación por actuaciones de Pekín

La OTAN había comenzado 2020 con el ánimo de dejar atrás los problemas internos de su particular annus horribilis –un 2019 en el que la organización había alcanzado la “muerte cerebral”, según el presidente francés, Emmanuel Macron–, pero la ausencia de normalidad mundial por crisis del coronavirus está dificultando poner plenamente en práctica lo acordado en la Cumbre de Londres, celebrada el pasado mes de diciembre para conmemorar el 70 aniversario de la creación de la Alianza. Precisamente, la Declaración de Londres expresó preocupación por actuaciones de China en asuntos como el 5G.

Países integrantes de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte [OTAN]

▲ Países integrantes de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte [OTAN]

ARTÍCULOJairo Císcar

Las Cumbres de la OTAN reúnen los Jefes de Estado y/o de Gobierno de los países miembros y sirven para tomar decisiones estratégicas del más alto nivel, tales como la puesta en práctica de nuevas políticas (como, por ejemplo, el Nuevo Concepto Estratégico en la Cumbre de Lisboa 2010), la introducción de nuevos miembros en la Alianza (Cumbre de Estambul 2004, con siete nuevos miembros), o el anuncio de grandes iniciativas, como se hizo en la Cumbre de Newport 2014, donde se anunció el core coalition de lo que después sería la Coalición Internacional contra el Estado Islámico.

La Cumbre de Londres tuvo lugar el 3 y 4 de diciembre para celebrar el 70 aniversario de la creación de la Alianza, que tuvo su primera sede en la capital británica. En las reuniones de trabajo, a las que asistieron los 29 estados miembros, la atención se puso sobre tres asuntos principales: (a) la permanente tensión-distensión entre Washington y París; (b) la cuestión económica, tanto por la guerra comercial entre la industria de Defensa europea y estadounidense como en la inversión en Defensa de los países miembros; y (c) la gestión de una Turquía cada vez más díscola.

a) En cuanto a la disputa Washington-París, se asistió a un nuevo capítulo de las dos formas de entender la Alianza Atlántica por parte de dos de los países más comprometidos con ella. Mientras que EEUU sigue insistiendo en la importancia de focalizar los esfuerzos de la Alianza en un eje Oriental (frente a Rusia y al yihadismo de Oriente Medio), Francia aspira a que el eje estratégico de la OTAN se centre en el Sur, en el Sahel africano. Esta es una visión que comparte y apoya España, que participa en varias misiones en suelo africano como la EUTM-Malí o el Destacamento Marfil en Senegal (que proporciona transporte estratégico en la zona a los países participantes en AFISMA y especialmente a Francia). Para el Sur de Europa, la mayor amenaza es la yihadista, y tiene su centro de gravedad en África. Así lo hizo saber Macron.

b) La cuestión económica sigue siendo fundamental, y así fue tratada en la Cumbre. Desde la Cumbre de Newport 2014, en la cual los 29 miembros acordaron dirigir sus esfuerzos a aumentar el gasto en Defensa para llegar al menos al 2% del PIB, solo nueve han logrado el objetivo (España se encuentra a la cola, superando con un irrisorio 0,92% solo a Luxemburgo). Estados Unidos, a la cabeza de la inversión en Defensa dentro de la OTAN, aporta el 22% de todo el presupuesto. La Administración Trump no solo quiere este aumento para que la Alianza disponga de ejércitos más grandes, preparados y modernizados, sino que enmarca el incremento en una ambiciosa estrategia comercial, con el F-35 “Lightning” como principal producto. Como ejemplo, Polonia: tras llegar al 2% requerido, este país anunció la compra de 35 F-35 y su soporte de software y técnico por $6.500 millones. Así, EEUU pudo hacer frente a las pérdidas causadas por la ruptura del acuerdo con Turquía tras adquirir los otomanos el sistema S-400 ruso. Polonia se une con esta adquisición al club de otros siete miembros OTAN con este avión, haciendo frente a la ofensiva comercial del bloque productor europeo para seguir vendiendo paquetes de “Eurofighter” y, especialmente, el reciente Future Combat Air System (liderado por Airbus y Dassault), del que España forma parte. Europa quiere crear una fuerte comunidad de Industria de Defensa por razones de autosuficiencia y para competir en los mercados frente a la industria estadounidense, por lo que nos encontramos ante una “mini” guerra comercial entre países aliados.

c) Respecto a Turquía, el miembro más incómodo de la OTAN, hubo una clara sensación negativa. Se trata de un aliado poco fiable, que está atacando a otros aliados en la Operación “Inherent Resolve” como las milicias kurdas, consideradas terroristas por el gobierno de Ankara. Planeaba sobre los líderes presentes en Londres el temor de una posible invocación del Artículo 5 del Tratado de Washington por parte de Turquía llamando a un enfrentamiento activo en Siria. La OTAN no tiene mucha opción, pues si no aguanta a Erdogan le estaría empujando del todo a la órbita rusa.

Declaración de Londres

El comunicado final de la cumbre evidenció un cambio del foco en el seno de la Alianza: hasta ahora, Rusia era la mayor preocupación y, si bien sigue siendo prioritaria, China está tomando su lugar. La Declaración puede dividirse en tres bloques.

1) El primer bloque funciona como parche de emergencia, con ánimo de contentar a las voces más discordantes y crear una fotografía de aparente unión sin fisuras. En su primer punto, los estados miembros reafirman el compromiso de todos los países con los valores comunes que comparten, citando la democracia, la libertad individual, los derechos humanos y el estado de derecho. Como un gesto hacia Turquía, se menciona el Artículo 5 como la piedra angular del Tratado del Atlántico Norte. Está claro que, al menos a corto-medio plazo, los países occidentales quieren conservar a Turquía como socio, estando dispuestos a ceder en pequeños gestos.

Más adelante, la Alianza insiste en la necesidad de “continuar reforzando las capacidades, tanto de los estados miembros como colectivas, para resistir toda forma de ataque”. Con respecto al objetivo del 2%, primordial para EEUU y los Estados que más gastan, se afirma que se están haciendo buenos progresos, pero que se “debe hacer y se hará más”.

2) El siguiente bloque entra en materia puramente estratégica y menos política. La Alianza hace notar que el actual sistema internacional está siendo atacado por actores estatales y no estatales. Resalta la amenaza que supone Rusia para la región Euroasiática e introduce la inmigración irregular como fuente de inestabilidad.

Con respecto a esta estabilización, las principales líneas maestras de la Alianza serán las de asegurar la presencia en Afganistán a largo plazo, la de una mayor colaboración con la ONU, así como la de la colaboración directa OTAN-UE. La Alianza quiere aumentar su presencia a nivel mundial, así como su trabajo a todos los niveles. Muestra de ello es la próxima incorporación de Macedonia del Norte como 30º miembro de la Alianza, lanzando un claro mensaje a Rusia de que no hay sitio en Europa para sus influencias.

De manera clara, para la OTAN nos encontramos en conflictos de 4ª generación, con el uso de guerra cibernética e híbrida. Se menciona el compromiso por tener una seguridad 360º dentro de la Alianza. Esta es consciente de la realidad cambiante del campo de batalla y del plano internacional, y muestra su compromiso para adaptar y actualizar sus capacidades.

3) Como tercer bloque, por primera vez se menciona a China directamente como un asunto que requiere decisiones conjuntas. El liderazgo que está asumiendo China en el campo de las comunicaciones e internet, especialmente con la tecnología del 5G, preocupa profundamente en el seno atlantista. En un entorno de operaciones donde la ciberguerra y la guerra híbrida van a cambiar la manera de hacer frente a un conflicto, se quiere asegurar la resiliencia de unas sociedades completamente dependientes de la tecnología, especialmente protegiendo las infraestructuras críticas (edificios de gobierno, hospitales…) y la seguridad energética. En Londres se proclamó, además, la importancia de desarrollar sistemas propios para no depender de los proveídos por países que los puedan utilizar contra los consumidores, así como la necesidad de aumentar las capacidades ofensivas y defensivas en el entorno cíber. Se reconoce que la creciente influencia china en el ámbito internacional presenta tanto oportunidades como riesgos, y que es un asunto que debe ser objeto de un seguimiento cercano y permanente.

El Documento finaliza con una declaración de intenciones: “En tiempo de retos, somos más fuertes como Alianza y nuestra población está más segura. Nuestra unión y compromiso mutuo ha garantizado nuestras libertades, valores y seguridad a lo largo de 70 años. Actuamos hoy para asegurar que la OTAN garantiza estas libertades, valores y seguridad para las generaciones venideras”

Si bien ha sido una cumbre agridulce, con múltiples desencuentros y comentarios desafortunados, la realidad es que, fuera de la política, la Alianza está preparada. Es consciente de las amenazas a las que se enfrenta, tanto internas como externas. Conoce la realidad del mundo actual y quiere actuar en consecuencia, con un grado de implicación mayor y más duradero. A pesar de que las palabras muchas veces se han quedado en el papel, esta Declaración y esta Cumbre muestran a una Alianza que, con sus particularidades, está preparada para afrontar los retos del siglo XXI; sus viejos fantasmas como Rusia, y sus nuevas amenazas como China.

Categorías Global Affairs: Seguridad y defensa Artículos Global

UN led vs. non-UN led post-conflict government building

WORKING PAPERMaría del Pilar Cazali



Government building in Africa has been an important issue to deal with after post- independence internal conflicts. Some African states have had the support of UN peacekeeping missions to rebuild their government, while others have built their government on their own without external help. The question this article looks to answer is what method of government building has been more effective. This is done through the analysis of four important overall government building indicators: rule of law, participation, human rights and accountability and transparency. Based on these indicators, states with non-UN indicators have had a more efficient government building especially due to the flexibility and freedom they’ve had to do it in comparison with states with UN intervention due to the UN’s neo-liberal view and their lack of contact with locals.


What has been the most successful government building in Africa?Download the document [pdf. 431K]

Categorías Global Affairs: África Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Documentos de trabajo

The Trump Administration’s Newest Migration Policies and Shifting Immigrant Demographics in the USA

New Trump administration migration policies including the "Safe Third Country" agreements signed by the USA, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have reduced the number of migrants from the Northern Triangle countries at the southwest US border. As a consequence of this phenomenon and other factors, Mexicans have become once again the main national group of people deemed inadmissible for asylum or apprehended by the US Customs and Border Protection.

An US Border Patrol agent at the southwest US border []

▲ An US Border Patrol agent at the southwest US border []

ARTICLE Alexandria Casarano Christofellis

On March 31, 2018, the Trump administration cut off aid to the Northern Triangle countries in order to coerce them into implementing new policies to curb illegal migration to the United States. El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala all rely heavily on USAid, and had received 118, 181, and 257 million USD in USAid respectively in the 2017 fiscal year.

The US resumed financial aid to the Northern Triangle countries on October 17 of 2019, in the context of the establishment of bilateral negotiations of Safe Third Country agreements with each of the countries, and the implementation of the US Supreme Court’s de facto asylum ban on September 11 of 2019. The Safe Third Country agreements will allow the US to ‘return’ asylum seekers to the countries which they traveled through on their way to the US border (provided that the asylum seekers are not returned to their home countries). The US Supreme Court’s asylum ban similarly requires refugees to apply for and be denied asylum in each of the countries which they pass through before arriving at the US border to apply for asylum. This means that Honduran and Salvadoran refugees would need to apply for and be denied asylum in both Guatemala and Mexico before applying for asylum in the US, and Guatemalan refugees would need to apply for and be denied asylum in Mexico before applying for asylum in the US. This also means that refugees fleeing one of the Northern Triangle countries can be returned to another Northern Triangle country suffering many of the same issues they were fleeing in the first place.

Combined with the Trump administration’s longer-standing “metering” or “Remain in Mexico” policy (Migrant Protection Protocols/MPP), these political developments serve to effectively “push back” the US border. The “Remain in Mexico” policy requires US asylum seekers from Latin America to remain on the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border to wait their turn to be accepted into US territory. Within the past year, the US government has planted significant obstacles in the way of the path of Central American refugees to US asylum, and for better or worse has shifted the burden of the Central American refugee crisis to Mexico and the Central American countries themselves, which are ill-prepared to handle the influx, even in the light of resumed US foreign aid. The new arrangements resemble the EU’s refugee deal with Turkey.

These policy changes are coupled with a shift in US immigration demographics. In August of 2019, Mexico reclaimed its position as the single largest source of unauthorized immigration to the US, having been temporarily surpassed by Guatemala and Honduras in 2018.




US Customs and Border Protection data indicates a net increase of 21% in the number of Unaccompanied Alien Children from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador deemed inadmissible for asylum at the Southwest US Border by the US field office between fiscal year 2019 (through February) and fiscal year 2020 (through February). All other inadmissible groups (Family Units, Single Adults, etc.) experienced a net decrease of 18-24% over the same time period. For both the entirety of fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2020 through February, Mexicans accounted for 69 and 61% of Unaccompanied Alien Children Inadmisibles at the Southwest US border respectively, whereas previously in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 Mexicans accounted for only 21 and 26% of these same figures, respectively. The percentages of Family Unit Inadmisibles from the Northern Triangle countries have been decreasing since 2018, while the percentage of Family Unit Inadmisibles from Mexico since 2018 has been on the rise.

With asylum made far less accessible to Central Americans in the wake of the Trump administration's new migration policies, the number of Central American inadmisibles is in sharp decline. Conversely, the number of Mexican inadmisibles is on the rise, having nearly tripled over the past three years.

Chain migration factors at play in Mexico may be contributing to this demographic shift. On September 10, 2019, prominent Mexican newspaper El Debate published an article titled “Immigrants Can Avoid Deportation with these Five Documents.” Additionally, The Washington Post cites the testimony of a city official from Michoacan, Mexico, claiming that a local Mexican travel company has begun running a weekly “door-to-door” service line to several US border points of entry, and that hundreds of Mexican citizens have been coming to the municipal offices daily requesting documentation to help them apply for asylum in the US. Word of mouth, press coverage like that found in El Debate, and the commercial exploitation of the Mexican migrant situation have perhaps made migration, and especially the claiming of asylum, more accessible to the Mexican population.

US Customs and Border Protection data also indicates that total apprehensions of migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador attempting illegal crossings at the Southwest US border declined 44% for Unaccompanied Alien Children and 73% for Family Units between fiscal year 2019 (through February) and fiscal year 2020 (through February), while increasing for Single Adults by 4%. The same data trends show that while Mexicans have consistently accounted for the overwhelming majority of Single Adult Apprehensions since 2016, Family Unit and Unaccompanied Alien Children Apprehensions until the past year were dominated by Central Americans. However, in fiscal year 2020-February, the percentages of Central American Family Unit and Unaccompanied Alien Children Apprehensions have declined while the Mexican percentage has increased significantly. This could be attributed to the Northern Triangle countries’ and especially Mexico’s recent crackdown on the flow of illegal immigration within their own states in response to the same US sanctions and suspension of USAid which led to the Safe Third Country bilateral agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

While the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration from the Northern Triangle countries has effectively worked to limit both the legal and illegal access of Central Americans to US entry, the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration from Mexico in the past few years has focused on arresting and deporting illegal Mexican immigrants already living and working within the US borders. Between 2017 and 2018, ICE increased workplace raids to arrest undocumented immigrants by over 400% according to The Independent in the UK. The trend seemed to continue into 2019. President Trump tweeted on June 17, 2019 that “Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in.” More deportations could be leading to more attempts at reentry, increasing Mexican migration to the US, and more Mexican Single Adult apprehensions at the Southwest border. The Washington Post alleges that the majority of the Mexican single adults apprehended at the border are previous deportees trying to reenter the country.




Lastly, the steadily increasing violence within the state of Mexico should not be overlooked as a cause for continued migration. Within the past year, violence between the various Mexican cartels has intensified, and murder rates have continued to rise. While the increase in violence alone is not intense enough to solely account for the spike that has recently been seen in Mexican migration to the US, internal violence nethertheless remains an important factor in the Mexican migrant situation. Similarly, widespread poverty in Mexico, recently worsened by a decline in foreign investment in the light of threatened tariffs from the USA, also plays a key role.

In conclusion, the Trump administration’s new migration policies mark an intensification of long-standing nativist tendencies in the US, and pose a potential threat to the human rights of asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border. The corresponding present demographic shift back to Mexican predominance in US immigration is driven not only by the Trump administration’s new migration policies, but also by many other diverse factors within both Mexico and the US, from press coverage to increased deportations to long-standing cartel violence and poverty. In the face of these recent developments, one thing remains clear: the situation south of the Rio Grande is just as complex, nuanced, and constantly evolving as is the situation to the north on Capitol Hill in the USA.

Categorías Global Affairs: Norteamérica Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Artículos

Empresas chinas desarrollan cuatro proyectos mineros en la isla; Trump ofreció comprarla

El deshielo del Ártico abre nuevas rutas marítimas y otorga especial valor a ciertos territorios, como Islandia o especialmente Groenlandia, cuyo enorme tamaño también esconde grandes recursos naturales. Empresas mineras chinas están presentes en la 'Tierra Verde' desde 2008; el gobierno danés ha querido poner freno a un incremento de influencia de Pekín asumiendo directamente la construcción de tres aeropuertos en lugar de que quedaran bajo gestión china. Copenhague teme veladamente que China fomente la independencia de los groenlandeses, mientras la Casa Blanca ha ofrecido comprar la isla, como ya intentara en otros momentos de la historia.

Población de Oqaatsut, en la costa oriental de Groenlandia [Pixabay]

▲ Población de Oqaatsut, en la costa oriental de Groenlandia [Pixabay]

ARTÍCULOJesús Rizo Ortiz

Groenlandia es la isla más grande del mundo, con más de 2 millones de kilómetros cuadrados, mientras sus habitantes no llegan a 60.000, lo que la hace el territorio con menor densidad de población del globo. Esta realidad, junto con las riquezas naturales aún por explotar y la ubicación geográfica, otorgan a esta Tierra Verde una gran importancia geoestratégica. Además, el calentamiento global y la puga por el nuevo orden mundial entre EEUU, China y Rusia sitúan a este territorio dependiente de Dinamarca en el centro de las dinámicas geopolíticas, por primera vez en su historia.

Debido al deshielo del Océano Ártico están surgiendo nuevas rutas de comunicación entre los continentes americano, europeo y asiático. Estas vías, aunque en el futuro permanezcan sujetas a limitaciones, están haciéndose cada vez más accesibles y durante más tiempo a lo largo del año. Groenlandia constituye un punto estratégico de control y suministro tanto de la ruta del Norte (la que sigue el contorno norte de Rusia) como del Noroeste (que atraviesa las islas septentrionales de Canadá), no solo en el caso de mercancías y barcos comerciales, sino también en términos de seguridad, ya que el deshielo del océano acorta notablemente las distancias entre los principales actores internacionales.

La posición geográfica de Groenlandia es clave, pero también lo que contiene bajo el hielo que cubre el 77% de su superficie. Se estima que el 13% de las reservas petroleras mundiales se hallan en Groenlandia, así como el 25% de las llamadas tierras raras (neodimio, disprosio, itrio...), que son fundamentales en la producción de nuevas tecnologías.

Interés de China y EEUU

Las perspectivas que abre la mayor posibilidad de navegación a través el Ártico ha llevado a que las potencias árticas elaboraren sus estrategias. Pero también China, interesada en una Ruta de la Seda Polar, ha buscado modos de estar presente el círculo ártico, y ha encontrado en Groenlandia una puerta.

La política exterior de China se concreta en gran medida en la ejecución de proyectos en zonas donde su poderío financiero es necesario, y así lo está haciendo en lugares requeridos de desarrollo como en África y Latinoamérica. Ese tipo de actuación también lo está llevando a cabo en Groenlandia, donde empresas chinas se encuentran presentes desde 2008. Los principales partidos políticos daneses ven con reticencia esa conexión con Pekín, pero la realidad es que mucha de la población groenlandesa, que en más del 80% es de origen inuit, valora positivamente las posibilidades de desarrollo local que abren las inversiones chinas. Esa diferente perspectiva se puso de manifiesto especialmente cuando en 2018 el gobierno de este territorio autónomo promovió tres aeropuertos internacionales (ampliación del de la capital, Nuuk, y construcción en los lugares turísticos de Ilulimat y Qaqortog), lo que en conjunto suponía la mayor contratación de obra pública de su historia. Aunque rápidamente desde China llegó una oferta de la constructora estatal CCCC, finalmente Copenhague decidió aportar fondos públicos daneses y participar en la propiedad de los aeropuertos, dados los recelos que levantaba la iniciativa china.

China está presente, en cualquier caso, en cuatro proyectos previos, relacionados con la minería y gestionados tanto por empresas estatales como privadas, todas ellas siguiendo los propósitos geopolíticos del gobierno chino, cuyo Ministerio de Tecnología de la Información e Industria ha expresado su interés por la actividad en Groenlandia. Esos cuatro proyectos son el de Kvanefjeld para la extracción de tierras raras, financiado principalmente Shenghe Resources; el de Iusa para la extracción de hierro, completamente financiado por General Nice; el de Wegener Halvø para la extracción de cobre, sostenido por Jiangxi Zhongrun tras un acuerdo con Nordic Mining en 2008; y por último, el denominado Citronen Base Metal, a cargo de China Nonferrus Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction (NFC).

Estados Unidos no se queda atrás en el interés por Groenlandia. Ya en la década de 1860 el presidente estadounidense Andrew Johnson destacó la importancia de Groenlandia en cuanto a recursos y posición estratégica. Casi un siglo después, en 1946, Harry Truman ofreció al gobierno danés comprar Groenlandia por 100 millones de dólares en oro. Aunque la oferta fue rechazada por Dinamarca, este país sí aceptó el establecimiento en 1951 de una base aérea estadounidense en Thule. Se trata de la base militar más septentrional del mundo, que fue clave en el transcurso de la Guerra Fría y aún hoy sigue funcionando. Esta base supone para EEUU una ventaja no solo ante la apertura comercial de nuevas travesías marítimas, sino ante una hipotética coalición chino-rusa que busque dominar la ruta del Norte. En otras palabras, dada la doble vertiente en la importancia de Groenlandia (recursos naturales y seguridad), se entiende que alguien tan poco convencional como Donald Trump haya vuelto a sugerir la posibilidad de comprar la inmensa isla, algo que Copenhague ha declinado.


Proyección de rutas a través del Ártico; la fila superior corresponde al deshielo que podría producirse con bajas emisiones, la inferior en el caso de altas emisiones [Arctic Council]

Proyección de rutas a través del Ártico; la fila superior corresponde al deshielo que podría producirse con bajas emisiones, la inferior en el caso de altas emisiones [Arctic Council]


En el centro de un ‘Great Game’

Al margen de la inviabilidad hoy de una operación de ese tipo sin tener en cuenta, entre otras cosas, la voluntad de la población, es cierto que está teniendo lugar un Great Game entre los principales actores internacionales por contar con Groenlandia entre sus cartas geoestratégicas.

1) Estados Unidos ya cuenta con presencia militar en Groenlandia, así como con buenas relaciones con Dinamarca e Islandia, ambos miembros de la OTAN, por lo que el control del estrecho de Dinamarca está garantizado, así como del espacio entre Groenlandia, Islandia y el Reino Unido (conocido como GIUK Gap), que comunica el Ártico con el Atlántico Norte. No obstante, Washington deberá cambiar su estrategia si quiere hacerse con el control de Groenlandia, comenzando por mejorar sus relaciones con el gobierno danés y financiando proyectos en la isla.

2) Aunque sin protagonismo en relación a Groenlandia, Rusia goza de preeminencia en toda la región ártica. Es, con diferencia, el país con más presencia militar en la zona, habiendo reutilizado algunas de las instalaciones soviéticas. Es la potencia hegemónica en toda la ruta Norte, considerada por el Kremlin como la principal vía de comunicación nacional. Dado el imperio absoluto de Rusia sobre esta vía, el hielo que todavía la cubre durante gran parte del año, y el control de los EEUU en su vertiente atlántica, esta Ruta no supondrá (al menos en principio) una alternativa real y rentable al estrecho de Malaca, para desasosiego de China.

3) China presentó en 2018 su libro blanco sobre su política para el Ártico, en el que se definió como “potencia casi ártica”. De momento, se ha fijado en Groenlandia como punto fundamental en su Ruta de la Seda Polar. La ruta del Norte acortaría alrededor de una semana el tiempo de transporte entre los puertos asiáticos y europeos y sería una alternativa más que necesaria al estrecho de Malaca. En la gran isla se ha centrado Hasta ahora en la extracción de recursos, siguiendo su particular y cauto modus operandi. Además, los fondos chinos suponen para los groenlandeses una alternativa a la dependencia absoluta de Dinamarca, lo que adicionalmente favorece las pretensiones nacionalistas de la isla.

Categorías Global Affairs: Logística e infraestructuras Artículos Ártico y Antártida

Los cambios, aunque significativos en algunos casos, no modificarán sustancialmente las corrientes comerciales entre los tres países

El nuevo Tratado de Libre Comercio de Estados Unidos, Canadá y México ha quedado listo para su aplicación, tras la ratificación llevada a cabo en los congresos de los tres países. La revisión del anterior tratado, que entró en vigor en 1994, fue reclamada por Donald Trump en su llegada a la Casa Blanca, alegando el déficit comercial generado para EEUU en relación a Canadá y especialmente a México. Aunque se han introducido algunas correcciones significativas, siguiendo los principales planteamientos estadounidenses, no parece que el revisado acuerdo vaya a modificar sustancialmente las corrientes comerciales entre los tres países.

Los presidentes Peña Nieto, Trump y Trudeau firman el acuerdo de libre comercio en noviembre de 2019 [US Gov.]

▲ Los presidentes Peña Nieto, Trump y Trudeau firman el acuerdo de libre comercio en noviembre de 2019 [US Gov.]

ARTÍCULOMarcelina Kropiwnicka

El primero de enero de 1994 entró en vigor el Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN o su versión en inglés, NAFTA). Más de veinte años después y bajo la administración del presidente Donald Trump, los tres países socios abrieron un proceso de revisión del acuerdo, ahora denominado Tratado de Libre Comercio de Estados Unidos, Canadá y México (al que cada país, poniéndose por delante, le ha dado unas siglas distintas: los mexicanos lo llaman T-MEC o TMEC, los estadounidenses USMCA y los canadienses CUSMA).

El texto del TMEC (sus siglas en español) finalmente ratificado por los tres países es coherente en general con el antiguo TLCAN. No obstante, hay distinciones particulares. Así, incluye normas de origen más estrictas en los sectores automovilístico y textil, un requisito de contenido de valor laboral actualizado en el sector del automóvil, un mayor acceso de Estados Unidos a los mercados gestionados por la oferta canadiense, disposiciones novedosas relacionadas con los servicios financieros y una especificación sobre el establecimiento de acuerdos de libre comercio con economías que no son de mercado. El objetivo conjunto es incentivar la producción en América del Norte.

Novedades negociadas en 2017–2018

Las tres partes comenzaron la negociación en verano de 2017 y al cabo de algo más un año cerraron un acuerdo, firmado por los presidentes de los tres países en noviembre de 2018. Las principales novedades introducidas hasta entonces fueron las siguientes:

1) El acuerdo revisa el porcentaje del contenido de valor regional (RVC) referido a la industria del automóvil. En el TLCAN se establecía que al menos el 62,5% de un automóvil debía estar hecho con piezas procedentes de América del Norte. El TMEC eleva el porcentaje al 75% con la intención de fortalecer la capacidad de fabricación de los países y aumentar la fuerza de trabajo en la industria automotriz.

2) En esta misma línea, para apoyar el empleo en América del Norte, el acuerdo contiene ​nuevas reglas de origen comercial para impulsar los salarios más altos al obligar a que el 40-45% de la fabricación de automóviles sea realizada por trabajadores que ganen al menos 16 dólares por hora de promedio para el año 2023; eso es aproximadamente tres veces el pago que normalmente recibe hoy un operario mexicano.

3) Aparte de la industria automotriz, el mercado de productos lácteos se abrirá para asegurar un mayor acceso de los productos lácteos de EEUU, una demanda clave para Washington. En la actualidad, Canadá tiene un sistema de cuotas nacionales que se establecieron para proteger a sus agricultores de la competencia extranjera; sin embargo, en virtud del nuevo acuerdo del TMEC, los cambios permitirán a Estados Unidos exportar hasta el 3,6% del mercado de productos lácteos de Canadá​, lo que supone un aumento del 2,6% con respecto a la disposición original del TLCAN. Otro logro clave para Trump fue la negociación de la eliminación por parte de Canadá de lo que se conoce como sus ​clases de leche 6 y 7​.

4) Otro aspecto nuevo es la cláusula de extinción. El TLCAN tenía una cláusula de extinción automática o una fecha de finalización predeterminada del acuerdo, lo que significaba que cualquiera de las tres partes podía retirarse del acuerdo, previo aviso de seis meses sobre el retiro; si esto no ocurría, el acuerdo se mantenía indefinido. Sin embargo, el TMEC prevé una duración 16 años, con la opción de reunirse, negociar y revisar el documento después de seis años, así como con la posibilidad de renovar el acuerdo una vez transcurridos los 16 años.

5) El pacto de los tres países también incluye un capítulo sobre el trabajo que ancla en el núcleo del acuerdo las obligaciones laborales, haciendo más exigente su ejecución.

Reformas en México

Precisamente para hacer más creíble ese último punto, los negociadores de EEUU y Canadá exigieron que México hiciera cambios en sus leyes laborales para acelerar el proceso de aprobación y ratificación del TMEC por parte de los legisladores de Washington y Ottawa. Los líderes de la Cámara de Representantes de EEUU habían dudado de la capacidad de México para cumplir específicamente con los puntos de derechos laborales del acuerdo. Uno de los principales objetivos del presidente Trump en la renegociación era asegurar a los trabajadores estadounidenses que se superaría la situación de competencia desigual.

El presidente mexicano, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, envió una carta al Congreso de EEUU garantizando la implementación de un plan de cuatro años para asegurar el logro de los derechos laborales adecuados. López Obrador se comprometió a un desembolso de 900 millones de dólares en los siguientes cuatro años para cambiar el sistema de justicia laboral y asegurar que las disputas entre trabajadores y empleadores se resuelvan de manera oportuna. México también ha invertido en la construcción de un Centro Federal de Conciliación y Registro Laboral, donde los conflictos laborales serán abordados antes de su audiencia en la corte.

Obrador mostró su compromiso con las reformas laborales asegurando al menos un aumento del 2% del ​salario mínimo en México​. Lo más notable es que la exigencia del voto directo de los líderes sindicales modificará el funcionamiento de las organizaciones de trabajadores. Con elecciones directas, las decisiones sobre los convenios colectivos serán más transparentes. El plan mexicano para mejorar el entorno laboral comenzará en 2020.

Novedades de 2019 para facilitar la ratificación

Ante las demandas planteadas en el Congreso de EEUU, sobre todo por la mayoría demócrata, para ratificar el tratado, los negociadores procedieron a dos revisiones importantes del TCLAN. Una de ellas dirigida principalmente a revisar una amplia cantidad de disposiciones relativas a la propiedad intelectual, los productos farmacéuticos y la economía digital:

6) El capítulo dedicado a los derechos de propiedad intelectual busca responder a inquietudes de EEUU para impulsar la innovación, generar crecimiento económico y respaldar puestos de trabajo. Por primera vez, según el representante de ​Comercio de Estados Unidos​, las adiciones incluyen: normas estrictas contra la elusión de las medidas de protección tecnológica de música, películas y libros digitales; una fuerte protección para la innovación farmacéutica y agrícola; una amplia protección contra el robo de secretos comerciales, y autoridad de oficio para que los funcionarios detengan mercancías presuntamente falsificadas o pirateadas.

7) También se ha incluido un nuevo capítulo sobre comercio digital que contiene controles más estrictos que cualquier otro acuerdo internacional, lo que consolida los cimientos para la expansión del comercio y la inversión en esferas en las que EEUU tiene una ventaja competitiva.

8) El redactado final elimina una garantía de 10 años de protección de la propiedad intelectual para los ​medicamentos biológicos​, que son algunos de los medicamentos más caros del mercado. Asimismo, suprime conceder tres años adicionales de excluvisidad de propiedad intelectual para medicamentos a los que se encuentre un nuevo uso.

Un segundo grupo de cambios de última hora hace referencia a mayores protecciones medioambientales y laborales:

9) Lo relativo al medio ambiente cubre 30 páginas, que esbozan las obligaciones para combatir el tráfico de vida silvestre, madera y pescado; fortalecer la aplicación de la ley para detener dicho tráfico, y abordar cuestiones ambientales críticas como la calidad del aire y los residuos marinos. Entre las ​nuevas obligaciones figuran: la protección de diversas especies marinas, la implantación de métodos adecuados para las evaluaciones de impacto ambiental, y la adecuación a las obligaciones de siete acuerdos ambientales multilaterales. En particular, México está de acuerdo en mejorar la vigilancia para poner fin a la pesca ilegal, y los tres países acuerdan dejar de subvencionar la pesca de especies sobreexplotadas. Para aumentar la responsabilidad ambiental, los demócratas de la Cámara de Representantes de EEUU instaron a que se cree un comité interinstitucional de supervisión. Sin embargo, el tratado no en asuntos de cambio climático.

10) Para asegurar que México cumple lo prometido respecto al ámbito laboral, los demócratas de la Cámara de Representantes forzaron la creación de un comité interagencial que monitoree la implementación de la ​reforma laboral de México y el cumplimiento de las obligaciones laborales. A pesar del nuevo y único requisito de la ‘LVC’, una regla de contenido de valor laboral, todavía será difícil imponer un salario mínimo a los fabricantes de automóviles mexicanos. No obstante, los demócratas estadounidenses esperan que la condición obligue a los fabricantes de automóviles a comprar más suministros de Canadá o EEUU o que haga que los salarios de los fabricantes de automóviles en México aumenten.

El acuerdo finalmente ratificado reemplazará el que está vigor desde hace 25 años. En general el paso del TLCAN al TMEC no debería causar un efecto drástico en los tres países. Es un acuerdo progresivo que supondrá ligeros cambios: ciertas industrias se verán afectadas, como la automotriz y la lechera, pero en una pequeña proporción. A largo plazo, dadas las modificaciones introducidas, los salarios debieran aumentará en México, lo que disminuiría la migración mexicana a EEUU. Las empresas se verán afectadas a largo plazo, pero con planes de respaldo y nuevos rediseños es de esperar que el proceso de transición sea suave y mutuamente beneficioso.

Categorías Global Affairs: Norteamérica Economía, Comercio y Tecnología Artículos

A picture of Vladimir Putin on Sputnik's website

▲ A picture of Vladimir Putin on Sputnik's website

ESSAYPablo Arbuniés

A new form of power

Russia’s growing influence in African countries and public opinion has often been overlooked by western democracies, giving the Kremlin a lot of valuable time to extend its influence on the continent.

Until very recently, western democracies have looked at influence efforts from authoritarian countries as nothing more than an exercise of soft power. Joseph S. Nye defined soft power as a nation’s power of attraction, in contrast to the hard power of coercion inherent in military or economic strength (Nye 1990). However, this influence does not fit the common definition of soft power as ‘winning hearts and minds’. In the last years China and Russia have developed and perfected extremely sophisticated strategies of manipulation aimed towards the civil population of target countries, and in the case of Russia the role of Russia Today should be taken as an example.

These strategies go beyond soft power and have already proved their effectiveness. They are what the academia has recently labelled as sharp power (Walker 2019). Sharp power aims to hijack public opinion through disinformation or distraction, being an international projection of how authoritarian countries manipulate their own population (Singh 2018).

Sharp power strategies are being severely underestimated by western policy makers and advisors, who tend to focus on more classical conceptions of the exercise of power. As an example, the “Framework document” issued by the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies on Russia-Africa relations (Mora Tebas 2019). The document completely ignores sharp power, labelling Russian interest in communication markets as no more than regular soft power without taking into consideration de disinformative and manipulative nature of these actions.

A growing interest in Africa 

Over the past 20 years, many international actors have shifted their interest towards the African continent, each in a different way.

China has made Africa a mayor geopolitical target in recent years, focusing on economic investments for infrastructure development. Such investments can be noticed in the Ethiopian dam projects such as the Gibe III, or in the Entebbe-Kampala Expressway in Uganda.

This could be considered as debt-trap diplomacy, as China uses infrastructure investments and development loans to gain leverage over African countries. However, there is also a key geopolitical interest, especially in those countries with access to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, due to the One Belt One Road Initiative. This project requires a net of seaports, where Kenya, and specifically the port of Lamu, could play a key role becoming a hub for trade in East Africa (Hurley, Morris and Portelance 2019).

Also, Chinese investments are attractive for African countries because they do not come with prerequisites of democratization or transparent administration, unlike those from western countries.

Yet, even though both China and Russia use sharp power as part of their foreign policy strategies, China does barely use it in Africa, since its interests in the continent are more economic than political. This is based on the view that China is more keen to exploit Africa’s natural resources (Mlambo, Kushamba y Simawu 2016) than anything else.

On the other hand, Russia has both economic and military interests in the region. This is exemplified by the case of Sudan, where in addition to the economic interest in natural resources, there is also a military interest in accessing the Red Sea. In order to achieve these goals, the first step is to grant stability in the country, and it can be achieved through ensuring that public opinion supports the government and accepts Russian presence.

The idea of a Russian world—Russkiy Mir—has grown under Putin and is key to understanding the country’s soft and sharp power strategies. It consists on the expansion of power and culture using any means possible in order to regain the lost superpower status.

However, this approach must not be seen only as a nostalgic push to regain status, but also from a purely pragmatic point of view, since economic and practical factors have “pushed aside ideology” in the competition against the West (Warsaw Institute 2019).

The recent Russia-Africa Summit (23-24 October 2019), that took place in Sochi, Russia, proves how Russia has pivoted towards Africa in recent years, offering infrastructure, energy and other investments as well as arms deals and different advisors. The outcome of this pivoting is being quite beneficial for Moscow in strategic terms.

The Kremlin’s interest in Africa was not remarkable until the post Crimea invasion. The economic sanctions imposed after the occupation of Crimea forced Russia to look further abroad for allies and business opportunities. For instance, as part of this policy there a more robust involvement of Russia in Syria.

The Russian strategy for the African continent involves benefiting favourable politicians through political and military advisors and offering control on media influence (Warsaw Institute 2019). In exchange, Russia looks for military and energy supply contracts, mining concessions and infrastructure building deals. Moreover, on a bigger picture, Russia—as well as China—aims to reduce the influence of the US and former colonial powers France and the UK.

Leaked documents published by The Guardian (Harding and Buerke 2019), show this effort to gain influence on the continent, as well as the strategies followed and the degree of cooperation with the different powers—from governments to opposition groups or social movements.

However, the growth of Russia’s influence in Africa cannot be understood without the figure of Yevgeny Prigozhin, an extremely powerful oligarch which, according to US special counsel Robert Mueller, was critical to the social media campaign for the election of Donald Trump in 2016. He is also linked to the foundation of the Wagner group, a private military contractor present among other conflicts in the Syrian war.

Prigozhin, through a network of enterprises known as ‘The Company’ has been for long the head of Putin’s plans for the African continent, being responsible of the growing number of Russian military experts involved with different governments along the continent, and now suspected to lead the push to infiltrate in the communication markets.

Between 100 and 200 spin doctors have already been sent to the continent, reaching at least 10 different countries (Warsaw Institute 2019). Their focus is on political marketing and specially on social media, with the hope that it can be as influential as in the Arab Springs.

Main targets

Influence in the media is one of the key aspects of Russia’s influence in Africa, and the main targets in this aspect are the Central African Republic, Madagascar, South Africa and Sudan. Each of these countries has a potential for Russian interests, and is targeted on different levels of cooperation, from weapons deals to spin doctors (Warsaw Institute 2019), but all of them are targets for sharp power strategies.

However, it is hard for a foreign government to directly enter the communication markets of another country without making people suspicious of its activities, and that is where The Company plays its role. Through it, pro-Russian editorial lines are fed to the population of the target states by acquiring already existing media platforms—such as newspapers or television and radio stations—or creating new ones directly under the supervision of officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this ensures that the dominant frames fit Russia’s interests and that of its allies.

Also, the presence of Russian international media is key to its sharp power. Russia Today and Sputnik have expanded their reach by associating with local entities in Eritrea, Ivory Coast, etc. Russian radio services have been expanded to Africa as well as a key factor in both soft and sharp power.

Finally, social media are a great way of distributing disinformation, given its global reach and the insufficient amount of fact-checkers devoted to this area. There, not only Russian media can participate but also bots and individual accounts are at the service of the Kremlin’s interests.


Although Madagascar is viewed by the Kremlin as a high cooperation partner, it doesn’t seem to have much to offer in geopolitical terms other tan mining concessions for Russian companies. Therefore, Russian presence in Madagascar was widely unexpected.

During the May 2019 election, Russia backed six different candidates, but none of them won. In the final stages of the campaign, the Kremlin changed its strategy and backed the expected and eventual winner, Andry Rajoelina (Allison 2019). This could be considered a fiasco and ignored because of the disastrous result, but there is a key aspect that shows how Russia is trying to shape public opinion across the continent.

Although political advisors and spin doctors were only one part of the plan, Russia managed to produce and distribute the biggest mass-selling newspaper along the country with more than two million copies every month (Harding and Buerke 2019). Though it did not seem to have any major impact on the short term, it could be an important asset for shaping public opinion on the long run.

Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) is of major geopolitical relevance in the whole of the African continent. Due to its location as well as its cultural and ethnic features, it is viewed by the Kremlin as the gate to the whole continent. It is the zone of transition between the Muslim north of the continent and the Christian south (Harding and Buerke 2019).

Given the complicated situation and the context of the ongoing civil war, it can be considered as an easy target for foreign powers. This is mainly due to the power structures being weakened by the war. Russia is part of the UN peacekeeping mission in the CAR, in a combination of soft and hard power. Also, a Russian training centre is operative in the country, and both Moscow and Bangui are open to the inauguration of a Russian military base.

Russia played a key role in the peace deal of February 2019, and since 2017 Valery Zakharov, a former Russian intelligence official, has been an adviser to CAR’s president. All of this, if the peacekeeping operations are successful, would lead to an immense political debt in favour of the Kremlin.

The mineral richness of the CAR is another asset to consider due to the reserves of gold and high-quality diamonds. Also, there is a big business opportunity in rebuilding a broken country, and Russian oligarchs and businessmen would certainly be interested in any public contracts regarding this matter. 

In the CAR, Russia exerts sharp power not only through social media, but also through two print publications and a radio station, which still have limited influence (Harding and Buerke 2019). Through such means, Russia is consistently feeding its frames narratives to a disoriented population, which given the unstable context, would be an easy target to manipulate.  Moreover, the possibility to create a favourable dominant post conflict narrative would render public opinion more likely to accept Russian presence in the future.


Sudan is of major geostrategic importance for Russia among many other actors. For long time both countries have had economic, political and military relations, leading to Sudan being considered by the Kremlin as a level 5 co-operator, the highest possible (Harding and Buerke 2019). This relation is enforced by Sudan’s constant claims of aggressive acts by the United States, for which it demands Russia’s military assistance.

Also, Sudan is rich in uranium, bearing the third biggest reserves in the world. Uranium is a key raw material to build a major power nowadays, and Russia is always keen on new sources of uranium to bolster its nuclear industry.

Moreover, Sudan is key in regional and global geopolitics because it offers Russia a possibility to have a military base with access to the Red Sea. Given the amount of trade routes that go through its waters, the Kremlin would be very keen to have said access. Many other powers have shown interest in this area, such as the gulf States, or China with its base in Djibouti being operative since 2017.  

For all these reasons. Sudan is a very special element in Russia’s plans, and thus its level of commitment is greater than in other countries. The election to take place on April 2020 could be considered as one of the most important challenges for democracy in the short term. Russia is closely monitoring the situation in order to draw an efficient plan of action.

Before the end of Omar al-Bashir’s presidency, Russia and Sudan enjoyed good relationship. Russian specialists had prepared reforms in economic and political matters in order to ensure the continuity in power of Bashir, and his fall was a blow to these plans.

However, Russia will devote many resources to amend the situation in the Sudan parliamentary and presidential election, that will take place in April 2020. In a ploy to maintain power, Al Bashir mirrored the measures employed against opposition protesters in Russia. These tactics consist of using disinformation and manipulated videos in order to portray any opposition movement as anti-Islamic, pro-Israeli or pro-LGBT. Given the fact the core of Sudan’s public opinion is mostly conservative and religious, Russia’s plan consists on manipulating it towards its desired candidate or candidates (Harding and Buerke 2019).

In order to ensure that the Russian framing was dominant, social media pages like Radio Africa’s Facebook page or Sudan Daily were presented like news pages, while being in fact part of a  Russian-backed influence network in central and northern Africa (Alba and Frenkel 2019). The information shown has been supportive of whatever government is in power, and critical of the protesters (Stanford Internet Observatory 2019), which shows that Russia’s prioritary interest is a stable government and weak protesters.

Another key part of the strategy has been pressuring the government to increase the cost of newsprint to limit the possibilities of countering the disinformation distributed with the help pf Russian advisors (Harding and Buerke 2019). The de-democratization of information can prove to be very effective, even more taking into account the fact that social media is not as powerful in Sudan as it is in western countries, so owning the most popular means of communication allows to create a dominant frame and impose it to the population without them even noticing.

South Africa

The economic context of South Africa, with a large economy, a rising middle class and a good market overall, is quite interesting for business and could be one of the reasons why Russia has such an interest in the country. Also, South Africa can be seen as an economic gateway to the southern part of the African continent.

South Africa is a key country for the global interest of Russia. Not only for its mineral richness and business opportunities, but mainly for its presence in BRICS. Russia attempts to use BRICS as a global counterbalance in a US dominated international landscape.

Russia is interested in selling nuclear technology to its allies, and South Africa is no exception. The presence of South Africa in BRICS is key to understand why such a deal would be so interesting for Russia. BRICS may not offer the possibility to create a perfect counter-balance for western powers, mainly due to the unsurpassable discrepancies among the involved countries, but its ability to cooperate comprehensively on limited shared projects and objectives can be of critical relevance (Salzman 2019).

The presence in the country of Afrique Panorama and AFRIC (Association for Free Research and International Cooperation), shows how Russia attempts to exert its influence. Both pages are linked to Prigozhin, but they are disguised as independent. AFRIC was involved in the elections of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Madagascar and DRC (Grossman, Bush y Diresta 2019).

In fact, if public opinion could be shaped in order to make Russia’s interests like nuclear cooperation acceptable by South Africa, the main obstacle would be surpassed, and a comprehensive plan of cooperation would be in play sooner than later.

The elections of May 2019 were one of the main priorities for Russia. The election saw Cyril Ramaphosa elected, as successor of Jacob Zouma. Ramaphosa is known to have openly congratulated Nicolás Maduro for his second inauguration and holds good relations with Vietnam. This are indicators of a willingness to have good relations even with anti-western powers, which is of big interest for the Kremlin. Furthermore, he has a vast business experience, being the architect of the most powerful trade union in the country among other achievements and initiatives, which would see him open to strike deals with Russian oligarchs in the mineral or energetic fields.

All this considered, South Africa is of extreme relevance for Russia, and thus its efforts to be able to shape public opinion. This could be used to favour the implementation of nuclear facilities as well as electing favourable politicians, creating a political debt to be exploited someday. For now, any activity has been limited to tracking and getting to understand public opinion. However, the creation of new media under some form of control by the Kremlin is one of the priorities for the coming years (Harding and Buerke 2019), and could prove a very valuable asset if it’s successfully achieved. Also, despite what was said in the case of Sudan, the importance of social media is not to be forgotten or underestimated, especially given the advantage of English being an official language in the country.

The bigger picture

From a more theorical point of view, that of the Flow and Contra-flow paradigm, Russia attempts to set the political agenda through mass media control, as well as impose its own frames or those that benefit its allies. Also, given the proportions of the project, we could talk about an attempt to go back to the cultural imperialism doctrines, where Russia attempts to pose its narrative as a counterflow of the western narratives. This was mainly seen during the cold war, when global powers attempted to widely spread their own narratives through controlling said information flows, arguably as a form of cultural imperialism.

This can be seen as an attempt to counterbalance the power of the US and western powers by attempting to shift African countries towards non-western actors. And African countries may be interested in this idea, since being the centre of the competition could mean better deals and business opportunities or investments being offered to them.

It would be a mistake to think that Russia’s sharp power in Africa is just a tool to help political allies get to power or maintain it. Beyond that, Russia monitors social conflicts and attempts to intensify them in order to destabilize target countries or exterior powers (Alba and Frenkel 2019). Such is the case in Comoros, where Prigozhin employees were tasked to explore the possibilities of intensifying the conflict between the local government and the French administration (Harding and Buerke 2019). Again on a broader picture of things, the attempt to develop an African self-identity through the use of sharp power looks to reduce the approval of influence of western democracies on the continent, thus creating a context ideal for bolstering dependence on the Russian administration either through supply contracts or political debt.

In conclusion, the recent growth of Russia’s soft and above all sharp power in Africa could potentially be one of the political keys in the years to follow, and it is not to be overlooked by western democracies. Global media, supranational entities and public administrations should put their efforts on providing civil society with the tools to avoid falling for Russia’s manipulative tactics and serve as guarantors of democracy. The most immediate focus should be on the US 2020 election, since the worst-case scenario is that the latest exercises of Russia’s sharp power in Africa are a practice towards a new attempt at influencing the US presidential election in 2020.



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