Here’s Trump’s list of banned Muslim countries in red, and the ones where he has business interests are in gold. The unlabeled one at the uper right is Azerbaijan.
Trump’s Muslim Ban Countries
And here’s a fragile states index for the region.
Fragile States Worst
The banned countries are places where the governments have basically collapsed. People are complaining about the relationship between Trump businesses and the presence or absence of a ban. I’m not justifying, nor am I criticizing, I’m just noting that here is some data that hasn’t commonly appeared in conjunction with the coverage of the issue.
The Fragile States Index 2016 was just mentioned on beBee and I saw a nice dataset to visualize in Tableau. Here is the original high resolution image:
And here is the image that resulted from my very simple import of the data into a Tableau workbook:
The states of the Mideast, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa have been an interest of mine for the past several years. Here’s a nit with Tableau, but it’s probably a deficit on my part – the only way I could make Syria visible would be to suppress the appearance of Lebanon. Tableau also treats Western Sahara as Terra Nullius, when it’s an ongoing problem between Morocco which administers it and Algeria which hosts many refugees.
Here are the grimmest of the grim, seven states with fragility scores in excess of 110. Iraq is one bad summer away from joining them.
I’ve made a copy of the Fragile States 2016 workbook available. I really should start pulling in other data, but what I want here would be food and water security information, and that’s often scattered and dated.
The Central African Republic’s troubles were obvious to foreign policy watchers a year ago and now conflict has boiled over into outright ethnic cleansing. As a former French colony the best sources on this area are still in French and as a resource poor, land locked area there simply wasn’t much available in February of last year. Now that things have gotten really bad some new maps have emerged.
I would normally provide some sort of unifying commentary for a collection of maps. All I have to offer today is that someone commented on the lack of quality maps for the Central African Republic, and I decided to go digging.
Starting in Tunisia with the self immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi in late December of 2010, Arab Spring spread like wildfire, bowling over four governments and straining all their neighbors. Three years have passed and a wave of weapons from Libya, coupled with fighters from all over, have destabilized the ring of nations adjacent to those which have already revolted.
North Africa Islamist Troubles
The nations in the next tier to the south are equally disturbed, with Boko Haram in Nigeria to al Shabaab attacks in Kenya, while the Central African Republic is melting down due to internal issues and unfinished business due to the separation of South Sudan threatens to revive their conflict with Sudan.
Imperial implosions are always messy affairs. North Africa bear the marks of lines that have been repeatedly redrawn over the last 1200 years. The continent had hardly finished digesting the 20th century collapse of the English and French imperial efforts before the Soviet Union took a tumble. The U.S. is in a similar position to what the Soviet Union faced in the late 1980s, militarily and financially exhausted, staggering home from long running low intensity conflicts.
I mentioned AFRICOM’s expansion in U.S. Military in Africa and 2014 will bring both a Quadrennial Defense Review as well as the second ever Quadrennial Diplomacy & Development Review. I am looking forward to comparing the 2010 documents to what will be presented for 2014, seeking clues as to what our stance will be in this region.
The government of the C.A.R. has been chronically unstable since they split with France. Unlike the rest of the conflicts I have covered, lack of water does not seem to be part of the problem. There is just a tiny piece of the country that is near the conditions of the very dry sahel area.
I recently published Visualizing Mali’s Meltdown, an exercise in using RecordedFuture‘s observation features. One of their claims is that by watching social media closely they can produce early warning of impending events. Given how badly U.S. mainstream media handle foreign affairs anything would be a relief, and the region of Africa formerly ruled by France is particularly troublesome for me, since all the good sources are in French.
RecordedFuture’s classification algorithm sees militia movements as ‘travel’ and low intensity conflict as ‘protests’, but once you understand that the output is quite usable. They use the same sources of information as Radian6, but the pre-existing framework of event categorization, mapping, and timeline handling is vastly superior for this sort of work. You can’t touch Radian6 for less than $300/month and if you want history and you have a big volume that number goes to $525/month. RecordedFuture is $149/month per seat, half the cost of Silobreaker, which provides similar features.
All three systems have merit and the calculus changes depending on what sort of situation you wish to observe and whom will be receiving the results. I’ve handled both Radian6 and Silobreaker for this sort of work. As soon as I round up another paying engagement I am going to fold the cost of a month of RecordedFuture into the deal so I can review the professional feature set.