Axios Mar 14
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George Clooney: Fighting corruption could help end African conflicts

Clooney, Penderghast
Clooney and Prendergast testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on South Sudan. Photo: Paul Morigi / WireImage

George Clooney and John Prendergast, co-founders of the Sentry, write for Foreign Affairs, "The Key to Making Peace in Africa: Fighting Corruption Can Help End Conflict."

Why it matters: "Without taking aggressive measures to go after the spoils that drive conflict in South Sudan and other African countries, it is difficult to imagine any future other than one of deepening repression, growing famine, and spiraling warfare."

  • "[T]he fatal flaw of peacemaking in Africa: those supporting mediation lack the leverage necessary to stop corrupt figures from using their forces to bomb, burn, imprison, silence, torture, starve, impoverish, kill, and rape to maintain or gain power."
  • "South Sudan is hardly unique. Something similar plays out across many African countries torn by conflict, including the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan. Oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, copper, and a variety of other mineral deposits and trafficked wildlife provide immense opportunity for those in power to line their own pockets."
  • The problem: "Every year, billions of aid dollars pour into Africa: taxpayers and donors around the world fund peacekeeping forces, state-building programs, humanitarian assistance, elections, and peace processes. But none of this support has been able to keep corrupt leaders and their network of beneficiaries from stealing billions of dollars."
  • What's needed: "A comprehensive strategy of using financial pressure for peace and human rights in South Sudan and other African war zones would cost very little. But it would give African mediators and their supporters in Washington, London, and elsewhere leverage in peace negotiations."

Go deeper: South Sudan's elite are using oil to fund conflict.

Full article coming soon at Foreign Affairs.

Axios 7 hours ago
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In Mideast, democracy struggles to strike root

Mohammad bin Salman
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the Oval Office on Tuesday. Photo: Kevin Dietsch / Pool via Bloomberg

"Egyptians go to the polls next week in what is essentially a one-candidate election considered by critics to be a return of sorts to authoritarian rule, after a 2011 revolution that sparked loftier expectations for the region," AP Middle East Editor Dan Perry writes.

The big picture: "[I]n the Middle East as a whole, democracy has largely failed to take hold."

Shannon Vavra 10 hours ago
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What it's like to negotiate with North Korea

Cups and a weapon.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

President Trump may find himself in a difficult position as soon as he sits down with Kim Jong-un, according to Jim Walsh, who has been in the room for previous talks and says North Korea’s first pitch is often a curveball.

“I’ve been in settings [in which they] set it at the top of the meeting, ‘we’re not going to talk about denuclearization,’" Walsh told Axios. "People on the other side say ‘why the hell are we meeting?’”