An African Chain Reaction

An African Chain Reaction

It's hard to imagine a story that involves more of the troubles plaguing international politics than the one now generating headlines across Africa. It started Sunday, when local media reported that South Africans had looted and destroyed dozens of foreign-owned shops in Johannesburg. More attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday reportedly killed at least seven people.


South Africa is burdened with a stagnant economy and sky-high youth unemployment. By some measures, it's also the most unequal society on Earth. But it's also a magnet for migrants from other African countries because the size of its economy promises more opportunities for decent-paying work than can be found at home.

The UN says that four million foreigners live in South Africa. A few South Africans, infuriated by a lack of opportunity, have decided that foreign migrants are stealing their jobs. They have threatened, then attacked them.

This is a problem that's existed for many years, but this week brought a new and troubling twist: In an age of social media, it didn't take long for word of the violence to reach Nigeria, home country for tens of thousands of migrant workers living in South Africa. Photos and videos began appearing in Nigerian social media that claim to depict Nigerians being attacked and murdered.

Much of this material is either fake or older images misrepresented as new, but Nigerians have already retaliated. Protesters in Nigeria have gone after South African-owned companies and the group that represents university students across Nigeria has formally demanded that all these businesses be shuttered, a decision that would inflict substantial economic damage on both countries.

Nigerian officials have tried to clear the air. The country's foreign minister has said that while it appears Nigerian businesses in South Africa have been looted, Nigerian citizens have not been attacked. "There are a lot of stories going around of Nigerians being killed, jumping off buildings and being burnt. This is not the case," he told reporters on Wednesday. No Nigerians have been confirmed among those killed this week, though Nigerians have been murdered in South Africa in the past.

So far, the clarification hasn't helped. On Tuesday, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa said, "there can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries," but his government has closed diplomatic missions in the Nigerian cities of Abuja and Lagos following threats made against staff. The reports of violence in South Africa have also inflamed tensions in Kenya, Mozambique, and other countries in the region.

The broader story – Tally it up: economic angst, migrants, violence against foreigners, fake news that distorts public perception, protests that take on a life of their own, economic pressure, and rising tension among governments anxious to appease public demand for action.

In years to come, it's not hard to imagine this ugly, largely spontaneous confluence of factors triggering storms far beyond Africa. In any region of the world.

Yau Abdul Karim lives and works in Garin Mai Jalah, located in the Yobe State of northeastern Nigeria. Essential to his work raising cattle is reliable access to water, yet environmental degradation has led to fewer water sources, severely impacting communities like his that depend on livestock. In 2019, with the help of FAO, Eni installed a special solar-powered well in Yau's town that provides water during the day as well as light at night.

Watch Yau's story as he shows how his family and community enjoy life-enhancing access to both water and light.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. And I thought I'd talk a little bit today about the latest in Israel, Palestine. It's obviously been driving headlines all week. And of course, on social media, there's no topic that we all get along and agree with each other more than Israel, Palestine. It's an easy one to take on. Yeah, I know I'm completely full of crap on that. But I thought I would give you some sense of what I think is actually happening where we're going. So first point, massive fight, big conflict between Hamas in Gaza and the Israeli defense forces. Not only that, but also more violence and a lot of violence breaking out between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews. Extremists on both sides taking to the streets and fairly indiscriminate violence, in this case, worst since 2014.

More Show less

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, says another independence referendum for Scotland is now a matter of "when not if," and that after leaving the UK, Scotland will launch a bid to rejoin the EU. But there are formidable obstacles ahead.

Getting to a vote will force a complex game of chicken with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. If a majority of Scots then vote for independence — hardly a sure thing – the process of extricating their new country from the UK will make Brexit look easy. Next, come the challenges of EU accession. In other words, Scotland's journey down the rocky road ahead has only just begun.

More Show less

Cyber is a tool, and sometimes a weapon. Whether espionage for commercial gain or indiscriminate attacks on critical infrastructure, actions taken in cyber space affect you directly, potentially upending even the most mundane realities of everyday life.

Join GZERO Media and Microsoft for a live conversation on cyber challenges facing governments, companies, and citizens in a Munich Security Conference "Road to Munich" event on Tuesday, May 18.

More Show less

According to Delhi-based journalist Barkha Dutt, while the Indian government has finally started to mobilize in response to the COVID crisis, there's still a lot of denial about the severity of the ourbreak. "Our Health Minister, for instance, made a statement in the last 24 hours saying that India is better equipped to fight COVID in 2021 than in 2020. That's simply rubbish. We had India's Solicitor General telling the Supreme Court that there is no oxygen deficit as of now. That's simply not true." In an interview on GZERO World, Dutt tells Ian Bremmer that only the connection between fellow Indians, helping each other when the government cannot, has been a salve.

Watch the episode: India's COVID calamity

Listen: Ask national security experts how they view China today and they'll likely the use a term like "adversary" or "economic competitor." But what about "enemy?" How close is the world to all-out-war breaking out between United States and China? According to US Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.), who served as Supreme Allied Commander to NATO, those odds are higher than many would like to admit. In fact, Stavridis says, the US risks losing its military dominance in the coming years to China. And if push comes to shove in a military conflict, it's not entirely clear who would prevail. Admiral Stavridis discusses his bestselling new military thriller 2034 and makes the case for why his fictional depiction of a US-China war could easily become reality.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

What's the issue with the letter in France talking about the "civil war"?

Well, I think it is part of the beginning of the French election campaign. We have some people in the military encouraged by the more right-wing forces, warning very much for the Muslim question. That's part of the upstart to the election campaign next year. More to come, I fear.

More Show less

When asked about where a US-China war may start, US Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) doesn't hesitate: Taiwan. He suggests that China may believe the US is distracted by internal politics: "I think it would be a miscalculation on the part of the Chinese, but they may calculate that now is the moment." How would a move against Taiwan play out? Stavridis speculates how the Chinese military may plan to invade the island on the upcoming episode of GZERO World, which begins airing on US public television Friday, May 14. Check local listings.

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

Beyond SolarWinds: Securing Cyberspace. Watch on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 10am PT/ 1pm ET

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

Beyond SolarWinds: Securing Cyberspace | Watch on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 10am PT / 1 pm PT

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal