African Affairs

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Rwanda: In Brief

Rwanda, a small landlocked country in central Africa’s Great Lakes region, has become known for its rapid development gains in the wake of the 1994 genocide, in which some 800,000 people were killed. Since then, efforts by the Rwandan Patriotic Front-led government to improve health outcomes, boost agricultural output, promote investment, and increase women’s participation in politics have been lauded internationally. Yet, analysts debate whether Rwanda’s authoritarian political system—and its government’s periodic support for rebel movements in neighboring countries—could jeopardize this...

Al Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa

After a more than a decade and a half of combating Al Qaeda (AQ) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States faces a diverse array of threats from Al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East and Africa. While senior Al Qaeda figures reportedly remain based in Pakistan, the network includes a number of affiliates across the Middle East and Africa including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Al Shabaab. Al Qaeda also retains a small but possibly growing presence in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have stated that Al Qaeda still maintains a...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 114th Congress

The President makes appointments to positions within the federal government, either using the authorities granted by law to the President alone, or with the advice and consent of the Senate. There are some 350 full-time leadership positions in the 15 executive departments for which the Senate provides advice and consent. This report identifies all nominations submitted to the Senate during the 114th Congress for full-time positions in these 15 executive departments.

Information for each department is presented in tables. The tables include full-time positions confirmed by the Senate, pay...

Niger: Frequently Asked Questions About the October 2017 Attack on U.S. Soldiers

A deadly attack on U.S. soldiers in Niger and their local counterparts on October 4, 2017, has prompted many questions from Members of Congress about the incident. It has also highlighted a range of broader issues for Congress pertaining to oversight and authorization of U.S. military deployments, evolving U.S. global counterterrorism activities and strategy, interagency security assistance and cooperation efforts, and U.S. engagement with countries historically considered peripheral to core U.S. national security interests. This report provides background information in response to the...

Tanzania: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

Tanzania is an East African country comprising a union of Tanganyika, the mainland territory, and the semiautonomous Zanzibar archipelago. The United States has long considered Tanzania a partner in economic development and, increasingly, in regional security efforts. With nearly 54 million people, Tanzania is one of the largest countries in Africa by population and is endowed with substantial natural resource wealth and agricultural potential. Over the past decade, it has experienced robust economic growth based largely on favorably high gold prices and tourism; growth has averaged nearly...

State Department Special Envoy, Representative, and Coordinator Positions: Background and Congressional Actions

The 115th Congress has expressed interest in monitoring the use of special envoys, representatives, and coordinator positions by the Department of State, as well as any changes to their status. Special, temporary diplomatic appointments originated during the presidency of George Washington, and the number of special representatives has expanded and contracted since then. Tabulating the precise number of these positions is difficult, however, because some special positions have fallen into disuse over time and were never officially eliminated.

Administration Action on Special Positions

It...

Burundi’s Political Crisis: In Brief

This report provides context on the political crisis in Burundi, which is rooted in President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term in 2015, in violation of a landmark peace accord. The crisis has spurred a low-intensity conflict and serious human rights violations, sparking a refugee influx into neighboring states and undermining Burundi’s hard-won stability following a civil war in the 1990s. Coinciding with a parallel stand-off over term limits in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the situation in Burundi has implications for longstanding U.S. efforts to...

Malawi: Key Developments and U.S. Relations

Malawi is a poor, landlocked country in southeastern Africa. A former British colony, Malawi transitioned from one-party rule to a democratic system in the early 1990s. It has since held a series of multi-party elections—though the most recent polls, held in 2014, featured some logistical shortcomings, limited violence, and a number of controversies, including a failed attempt by then-incumbent President Joyce Banda to annul the election. The race was ultimately won by Peter Mutharika, whose brother, Bingu wa Mutharika, served as president from 2004 until his death in 2012, when he was...

The Islamic State and U.S. Policy

The Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL/ISIS, or the Arabic acronym Da’esh) is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that seized large areas of Iraq and Syria, has affiliates in several other countries, has attracted a network of global supporters, and disrupts international security with its campaigns of violence and terrorism. A U.S.-led coalition military campaign against the Islamic State organization in Iraq and Syria has evolved since 2014, reducing the area controlled by the group considerably and eliminating thousands of its...

Presidential Appointee Positions Requiring Senate Confirmation and Committees Handling Nominations

As part of the process of making an appointment to an advice and consent position, the President submits a nomination to the Senate. Most nominations are referred to the appropriate Senate committee or committees on the day they are received. Such referrals are guided by Senate Rule XXV, which establishes the subject matter under the purview of each committee and directs that “all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating primarily to [those] subjects” be referred to that committee. Precedents set by prior referrals, standing orders, and unanimous...

Sub-Saharan Africa: Key Issues, Challenges, and U.S. Responses

The 115th Congress and the Trump Administration are reviewing existing U.S. policies and programs in sub-Saharan Africa (henceforth, “Africa”) as they establish their budgetary and policy priorities toward the region while also responding to emerging crises. Africa-specific policy questions did not feature prominently in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and the views of the Trump Administration on many U.S.-Africa policy issues remain unspecified. The Obama Administration’s Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa identified its policy priorities as strengthening democratic institutions;...

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

In October 2013, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bali, Indonesia, China proposed creating a new multilateral development bank (MDB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). As its name suggests, the Bank's stated purpose is to provide financing for infrastructure needs throughout Asia, as well as in neighboring regions. As of January 2017, the AIIB has approved nine projects, investing a total of $1.7 billion.

The AIIB commenced operations on January 16, 2016. Membership in the AIIB is open to all members of the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank (ADB)....

Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and U.S. Relations

War and humanitarian suffering in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have long preoccupied U.S. policymakers, including many Members of Congress. Since the 1990s, cyclical conflicts in eastern DRC have caused regional instability and impeded investment, becoming the focus of international attention toward the country. Since 2015, attention has turned toward DRC’s political trajectory as President Joseph Kabila’s efforts to remain in office past the end of his second elected term in 2016 (his last, under the constitution) have sparked unrest. Unable for now to amend constitutional term...

Cabo Verde: Background and U.S. Relations

Cabo Verde, a small island nation of just over half a million people located off the west coast of Africa, is of strategic significance to the United States because its geographic location has made the country a transshipment point for Latin American cocaine bound for Europe and a key refueling stopover for trans-Atlantic air traffic between Africa and the United States.

The country is also a long-standing U.S. ally in Africa that the State Department has cited as a model of democratic governance in the region since its transition from single party rule to a multi-party political system...

Kurds in Iraq and Syria: U.S. Partners Against the Islamic State

Since 2014, the United States and members of a coalition it leads have partnered with a politically diverse set of Kurdish groups to combat the Islamic State organization (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL or by the Arabic acronym Da’esh). For background information on these groups and their relationships in the region, see CRS In Focus IF10350, The Kurds in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran, by Jim Zanotti and Bolko J. Skorupski.

The capabilities of various Kurdish ground forces have advanced some U.S. objectives in connection with ongoing anti-IS operations. At the same time, as these operations...

The African Union (AU): Key Issues and U.S.-AU Relations

U.S. relations with the African Union (AU), an intergovernmental organization to which all African countries except Morocco belong, have strengthened over the past decade. U.S.-AU cooperation has traditionally focused on peace operations and conflict prevention and mitigation. U.S. aid for AU democracy-strengthening initiatives is another key focus of engagement. Other areas of cooperation include economic development, health, governance, peace and security capacity building, and criminal justice. Direct U.S. aid to the AU Commission (AUC, the organization’s secretariat), which oversees AU...

The Central African Republic: Background and U.S. Policy

The Central African Republic (CAR) is emerging from a crisis that began when rebels overthrew the national government in 2013, ushering in a chaotic and violent period. A new president, Faustin Archange Touadéra, was elected in 2016, but gains remain fragile. Militias that have targeted civilians on the basis of religious and ethnic identity continue to operate in much of the country, posing challenges to governance, reconciliation, and accountability. Violence has caused large population displacements, weakening an already tiny economy and placing strains on finite international aid and...

Security Cooperation: Comparison of Proposed Provisions for the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

During the lame duck session, the 114th Congress is expected to consider various provisions in the annual defense authorization bill that address U.S. security sector cooperation. If enacted, the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) could significantly alter the way in which the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) engages and partners with foreign security forces.

Policy Debate in Context

Successive U.S. Administrations have emphasized the importance of strengthening foreign military partnerships to achieve shared security goals. Over time, the legal authorities underpinning some...

Conflict in South Sudan and the Challenges Ahead

South Sudan, which separated from Sudan in 2011 after almost 40 years of civil war, was drawn into a devastating new conflict in late 2013, when a political dispute that overlapped with preexisting ethnic and political fault lines turned violent. Civilians have been routinely targeted in the conflict, often along ethnic lines, and the warring parties have been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The war and resulting humanitarian crisis have displaced more than 2.7 million people, including roughly 200,000 who are sheltering at U.N. peacekeeping bases in the country. Over 1...

Zimbabwe: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

Zimbabwe, a southern African country of about 14 million people, gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980 after a lengthy armed struggle against white minority rule. The armed struggle, and the enduring effects of land allocations that favored whites, have profoundly shaped post-independence politics, as have the nationalist economic policies of the ruling Zimbabwe National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), led by long-time president Robert Mugabe. Land seizures, state-centric economic policies, and persistent political turmoil under Mugabe led to a severe economic contraction...

The Obama Administration’s Feed the Future Initiative

The Obama Administration’s Feed the Future (FTF) Initiative is a U.S. international development program launched in 2010 that invests in food security and agricultural development activities in a select group of developing countries in an effort to reduce hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and food insecurity. The bulk of FTF funding supports 19 “focus countries” selected based on country ownership potential, needs, and opportunities to achieve success. FTF supports additional countries under aligned and regional programs and through assistance to three “strategic partners”—Brazil, India, and...

Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa

The pace of high-profile terrorist attacks in Sub-Saharan Africa has intensified in recent years, and the death toll now rivals that of other regions where violent Islamist extremist groups are active. This report provides context for these trends, including a summary of sub-regional dynamics, factors affecting radicalization, and U.S. responses. It focuses primarily on Sunni Islamist terrorism, given the ideological underpinnings of the African groups currently designated by the U.S. State Department as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Select issues for Congress are also explored....

The Orlando Mass Shooting: CRS Experts

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Nigeria’s Boko Haram: Frequently Asked Questions

Boko Haram, a violent Nigerian Islamist movement, has grown increasingly active and deadly in its attacks against state and civilian targets in recent years, drawing on narratives of religious exclusivism, victimization, and vengeance for state abuses to elicit sympathizers and recruits. The group’s April 2014 abduction of almost 300 schoolgirls drew particular international attention, including from the Obama Administration and Members of Congress. Boko Haram’s high death toll and its pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State (IS, aka ISIL or ISIS) in March 2015 have further raised the...

Closing Space: Restrictions on Civil Society Around the World and U.S. Responses

Civil society organizations (CSOs) around the world are confronting ever stricter limitations on their ability to operate, a phenomenon often referred to “closing space” for civil society work. From restrictions on the types of funding they are allowed to receive to draconian registration requirements, the measures targeting CSOs are increasingly putting pressure on the entire civil society sector in certain countries. These restrictions are most commonly imposed by governments seeking to limit the influence of nongovernmental actors, though restrictions are also being imposed by a broad...

Nigeria: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

The U.S. government considers its relationship with Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer of oil and its largest economy, to be among the most important on the continent. The country is Africa’s most populous, with more than 180 million people, roughly evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. Nigeria, which transitioned from military to civilian rule in 1999, ranked until recently among the top suppliers of U.S. oil imports, and is a major recipient of U.S. foreign aid. It is an influential actor in African politics and a major troop contributor to U.N. peacekeeping missions.

Nigeria is...

Iraq: Politics and Governance

Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divisions—muted toward the end of the 2003-2011 U.S. military intervention in Iraq—are fueling a major challenge to Iraq’s stability and to U.S. policy in Iraq and the broader Middle East region. The resentment of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs toward the Shiite-dominated central government facilitated the capture in 2014 of nearly one-third of Iraqi territory by the Sunni Islamist extremist group called the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL, ISIS, or the Arabic acronym Da'esh). Iraq’s Kurds are separately embroiled in political, territorial, and economic disputes with...

The Fight Against Al Shabaab in Somalia in 2016

This report discusses current efforts to counter Al Shabaab, a Somalia-based Al Qaeda affiliate.

The Islamic State—Frequently Asked Questions: Threats, Global Implications, and U.S. Policy Responses

In the wake of the deadly November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, U.S. policymakers are faced with a wide range of strategy and operational considerations related to the activities of and threats emanating from the Islamic State (IS). A terrorist attack such as this prompts an examination of U.S. domestic security precautions; the role of allies and coalition partners; the appropriate military and diplomatic reactions; the safety and security of infrastructure and that of travelers; and numerous additional discrete issues that require the active involvement of dozens of federal,...

The November 2015 Terrorist Siege in Mali

On November 20, 2015, gunmen laid siege to the Radisson Blu, a hotel popular with foreigners in Mali's capital, Bamako. This report discusses issues for Congress in the wake of the attack.

U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY2016 Request

This report is an overview of U.S. foreign assistance to the Middle East and North Africa. It includes a review of the President’s FY2016 request for the region, a description of selected country programs, and an analysis of current foreign aid issues. We anticipate updating it annually.

Since 1946, the United States has provided an estimated total of between $282 billion to $292 billion (obligations in current dollars) in foreign assistance to the region. For FY2016, overall non-humanitarian bilateral aid requested for Middle East and North Africa countries amounts to $7.14 billion, or...

The Lord’s Resistance Army: The U.S. Response

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, is a small, dispersed armed group active in remote areas of Central Africa. The LRA’s infliction of widespread human suffering and its potential threat to regional stability have drawn significant attention in recent years, including in Congress. Campaigns by U.S.-based advocacy groups have contributed to policymakers’ interest.

Since 2008, the United States has provided support to Ugandan-led military operations to capture or kill LRA commanders, which since 2012 have been integrated into an African Union (AU) “Regional Task Force”...

Russian Deployments in Syria Complicate U.S. Policy

This report briefly discusses Russia's military presence in Syria. In recent weeks, Russia has moved military equipment and personnel to Syria, which could potentially be used to resupply the Asad regime or lead to a direct Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war.

Powering Africa: Challenges of and U.S. Aid for Electrification in Africa

The largest infrastructure deficit in sub-Saharan Africa, a region mostly made up of low income developing countries, is in the power sector, according to the World Bank. Rates of access to electricity in Africa are very low by global standards, notably in rural areas. About 57% of Africans, or about 621 million people, lack access to electricity (also referred to as “power” in this report). Whether measured in terms of generation and distribution capacity, electricity consumption, or security of supply, Africa’s power sector delivers a fraction of the service needed or found elsewhere in...

Iran Nuclear Agreement: CRS Experts

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44139 Summary Congress is currently in a period of formal review, being conducted on the basis of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (P.L. 114-17), of the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) nuclear agreement concluded between Iran and six negotiating powers (“P5+1”) on July 14. The period for initial congressional review under the Act is to conclude on September 17. The agreement has raised a wide variety of questions in Congress. Issues include the specific terms of the deal; the implications for inspections, proliferation,...

Political Transition in Tunisia

Tunisia has taken key steps toward democracy since the “Jasmine Revolution” in 2011, and has so far avoided the violent chaos and/or authoritarian resurrection seen in other “Arab Spring” countries. Tunisians adopted a new constitution in January 2014 and held national elections between October and December 2014, marking the completion of a four-year transitional period. A secularist party, Nidaa Tounes (“Tunisia’s Call”), won a plurality of seats in parliament, and its leader Béji Caïd Essebsi was elected president. The results reflect a decline in influence for the country’s main...

U.S.-Kenya Relations: Current Political and Security Issues

The U.S. government views Kenya as a strategic partner and a key regional actor in East Africa, and as critical to regional counterterrorism efforts. Kenya has repeatedly been a target of terrorist attacks, and, as the deadly September 2013 assault on a Nairobi shopping mall and subsequent attacks have underscored, terrorist threats in Kenya remain a serious concern. Heightened threats have led the U.S. government to reevaluate the size of its presence in the country, which hosts the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in Africa and one of four major U.N. offices worldwide.

Kenya’s military...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 113th Congress

The President makes appointments to positions within the federal government, either using the authorities granted by law to the President alone, or with the advice and consent of the Senate. There are some 351 full-time leadership positions in the 15 executive departments for which the Senate provides advice and consent. This report identifies all nominations submitted to the Senate during the 113th Congress for full-time positions in these 15 executive departments.

Information for each department is presented in tables. The tables include full-time positions confirmed by the Senate, pay...

African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA): Background and Reauthorization

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a nonreciprocal trade preference program that provides duty-free treatment to U.S. imports of certain products from eligible sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. There are 49 candidate SSA countries with 39 currently eligible for the preference benefits. Congress first authorized AGOA in 2000 to encourage export-led growth and economic development in SSA and improve U.S. economic relations with the region. Its current authorization expires on September 30, 2015.

Bills to renew the preference program (H.R. 1891/S. 1009) were introduced in...

European Fighters in Syria and Iraq: Assessments, Responses, and Issues for the United States

The rising number of U.S. and European citizens traveling to fight with rebel and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq has emerged as a growing concern for U.S. and European leaders, including Members of Congress. Several deadly terrorist attacks in Europe over the past year—including the killing of 17 people in Paris in January 2015—have heightened the perception that these individuals could pose a serious security threat. Increasingly, terrorist suspects in Europe appear to have spent time with groups fighting in the Middle East, especially with the Islamic State organization (also known...

Terrorist Attack in Tunis: Implications

This report briefly discusses the implications of the March 18 terrorist attack in Tunis which killed at least 20 foreign tourists visiting the national Bardo Museum, along with a Tunisian police officer.

Nigeria's Boko Haram and the Islamic State

This report discusses the Nigerian Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram, and their statement pledging loyalty to the leader of the Syria/Iraq-based Islamic State (IS/ISIL) organization and the implication for U.S. foreign policy and national security.

Nigeria’s 2015 Elections and the Boko Haram Crisis

In early February, the Nigerian government controversially delayed its scheduled elections by six weeks, to March 28, based on security concerns, drawing criticism from the political opposition and the Obama Administration, among others. The delay has heightened concerns about tensions around the polls and raised questions about alleged political interference in the electoral process. Two weeks prior to the delay, in late January, Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Nigeria to stress U.S. views about the importance of the elections, and to extend condolences to the families of...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 112th Congress

The President makes appointments to positions within the federal government, either using the authorities granted to the President alone or with the advice and consent of the Senate. There are some 349 full-time leadership positions in the 15 executive departments for which the Senate provides advice and consent. This report identifies all nominations submitted to the Senate during the 112th Congress for full-time positions in these 15 executive departments.

Information for each department is presented in tables. The tables include full-time positions confirmed by the Senate, pay levels...

Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Ebola in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions

Throughout 2014, an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) has outpaced the efforts of health workers trying to contain it in three West African countries: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. (These are often referred to as “affected countries” or “countries with widespread transmission.” In mid-November, 2014, Ebola transmission also occurred for the second time in neighboring Mali. The extent of spread in Mali remains to be seen.) EVD cases have been imported to other countries, including the United States, where two nurses were infected while caring for a patient who had traveled from...

Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola or EVD): Experts List

Ebola virus disease (Ebola or EVD) is a severe, often fatal disease that was first detected near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1976. Originating in animals, EVD is spread to and among humans through contact with the blood, other bodily fluids, organs, and corpses of those infected. It is not transmitted through the air. In March 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that an EVD outbreak had begun in Guinea. The outbreak has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal.

U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: Frequently Asked Questions and Background

This report provides information about the early August 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, and policy issues likely to be addressed by participants in the summit and other events being held in conjunction with it. In providing background on key U.S.-Africa policy issues, the report addresses: Africa’s development and economic challenges; U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and economic cooperation; U.S. aid to Africa; Governance, democracy, and human rights issues; and Peace and security issues, including selected U.S. responses. The summit is organized around the theme...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 111th Congress, 2009-2010

This report explains the process for filling positions to which the President makes appointments with the advice and consent of the Senate (also referred to as PAS positions). It also identifies, for the 111th Congress, all nominations to full-time positions requiring Senate confirmation in the 15 executive departments. It excludes appointments to regulatory boards and commissions and independent and other agencies, which are covered in other CRS reports.

The appointment process for advice and consent positions consists of three main stages. The first stage is selection, clearance, and...

Iraq Crisis: CRS Experts

The table below provides names and contact information for CRS experts on various policy concerns of interest to Congress relating to the ongoing crisis in Iraq. Policy areas identified include the conflict in Iraq, al Qaeda affiliates, embassy security, military operations, war powers, sanctions, energy security, humanitarian issues and displaced persons, issues in the Middle East region, the United Nations, and other international actors.

Lebanon: Background and U.S. Policy

Lebanons small geographic size and population belie the important role it has long played in the security, stability, and economy of the Levant and the broader Middle East. Congress and the executive branch have recognized Lebanons status as a venue for regional strategic competition and have engaged diplomatically, financially, and at times, militarily to influence events there. For most of its independent existence, Lebanon has been torn by periodic civil conflict and political battles between rival religious sects and ideological groups. External military intervention, occupation, and...

The Debate Over Selected Presidential Assistants and Advisors: Appointment, Accountability, and Congressional Oversight

A number of the appointments made by President Barack H. Obama to his Administration or by Cabinet secretaries to their departments have been referred to, especially by the news media, as “czars.” For some, the term is used to convey an appointee’s title (e.g., climate “czar”) in shorthand. For others, it is being used to convey a sense that power is being centralized in the White House or certain entities. When used in political science literature, the term generally refers to White House policy coordination or an intense focus by the appointee on an issue of great magnitude. Congress has...

“Leahy Law” Human Rights Provisions and Security Assistance: Issue Overview

Congressional interest in the laws and processes involved in conditioning U.S. assistance to foreign security forces on human rights grounds has grown in recent years, especially as U.S. Administrations have increased emphasis on expanding U.S. partnerships and building partnership capacity with foreign military and other security forces. Congress has played an especially prominent role in initiating, amending, supporting with resources, and overseeing implementation of long-standing laws on human rights provisions affecting U.S. security assistance.

First sponsored in the late 1990s by...

The September 2013 Terrorist Attack in Kenya: In Brief

On September 21, 2013, masked gunmen attacked the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya taking hostages and killing at least 67 people. Almost 200 people, including at least five U.S. citizens, were wounded in the siege, which lasted four days. The attack is the most deadly terrorist incident in Kenya since the 1998 Al Qaeda bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi. A Somali Islamist insurgent group, Al Shabaab, which has ties to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the Westgate attack. Al Qaeda and affiliated groups like Al Shabaab have had a presence in East Africa for almost 20...

China’s Political Institutions and Leaders in Charts

This report provides a snapshot of China’s leading political institutions and current leaders in the form of nine organization charts and three tables. The report is a companion to CRS Report R41007, Understanding China’s Political System, by Susan V. Lawrence and Michael F. Martin, which provides a detailed explanation of China’s political system. This chart-based report is intended to assist Members and their staffs seeking to understand where political institutions and individuals fit within the broader Chinese political system and to identify which Chinese officials are responsible for...

Trade Reorganization: Overview and Issues for Congress

On January 13, 2012, President Obama asked Congress for authority to reorganize and consolidate, into one department, the business- and trade-related functions of six federal entities: Department of Commerce; Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank); Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC); Small Business Administration (SBA); Trade and Development Agency (TDA); and Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Bills based on the proposal were introduced in the 112th Congress. The President reiterated the proposal in his FY2014 budget request, and he may resubmit his request for...

Crisis in Mali

For the past 18 months, Mali has been mired in overlapping security, political, and humanitarian crises. A separatist rebellion launched in 2011 aggravated intra-military and political tensions in the country. In March 2012, junior military officers—led by a former participant in U.S. training programs—carried out a coup that overthrew a democratically elected government. Islamist extremist groups, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, took advantage of the ensuing chaos to expand their presence in Mali’s vast, Saharan north. In the...

Ghana: Recent Developments and U.S. Relations

Ghana: Bilateral Cooperation and Leadership Engagement

Ghana is considered a model for many of the outcomes that many Members of Congress have long sought to achieve in sub-Saharan Africa in the areas of authorizations; appropriations and program guidance; and oversight. Ghana has received a large U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact and may soon receive a second. It is also a recipient of substantial U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and State Department bilateral aid, much of which is channeled through three presidential development initiatives:

the Global...

The Unified Command Plan and Combatant Commands: Background and Issues for Congress

The Unified Command Plan (UCP) and associated Combatant Commands (COCOMs) provide operational instructions and command and control to the Armed Forces and have a significant impact on how they are organized, trained, and resourced—areas over which Congress has constitutional authority. The UCP is a classified executive branch document prepared by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and reviewed and updated every two years that assigns missions; planning, training, and operational responsibilities; and geographic areas of responsibilities to COCOMs. Functional COCOMs operate...

U.S. Trade and Investment Relations with sub-Saharan Africa and the African Growth and Opportunity Act

Following the end of the apartheid era in South Africa in the early 1990s, the United States sought to increase economic relations with sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). President Clinton instituted several measures that dealt with investment, debt relief, and trade. Congress passed legislation that required the President to develop a trade and development policy for Africa.

Between 1960 and 1973, Africa’s economic growth was relatively strong, followed by a period of stagnation and decline for the subsequent two decades in many SSA countries. Current perspectives, however, indicate that many of...

Sudan and South Sudan: Current Issues for Congress and U.S. Policy

Congress has played an active role in U.S. policy toward Sudan for more than three decades. Efforts to support an end to the country’s myriad conflicts and human rights abuses have dominated the agenda, as have counterterrorism concerns. When unified (1956-2011), Sudan was Africa’s largest nation, bordering nine countries and stretching from the northern borders of Kenya and Uganda to the southern borders of Egypt and Libya. Strategically located along the Nile River and the Red Sea, Sudan was historically described as a crossroads between the Arab world and Africa. Domestic and...

Recent Protests in Muslim Countries: Background and Issues for Congress

Muslims in a number of countries have responded in recent days with anger at the United States that many observers describe as a response to a privately produced film circulating on the Internet that denigrates Islam and the prophet Mohammed. In some cases, this outrage has taken the form of public expressions by relatively small groups of demonstrators, and in other countries the demonstrations have been larger. In the most extreme cases, such demonstrations have been accompanied by violent attacks against U.S. diplomatic personnel and diplomatic facilities. Pre-existing anti-U.S....

Conflict Minerals in Central Africa: U.S. and International Responses

“Conflict minerals” are ores that, when sold or traded, have played key roles in helping to fuel conflict and extensive human rights abuses, since the late 1990s, in far eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The main conflict minerals are the so-called the “3TGs”: ores of tantalum and niobium, tin, tungsten, and gold, and their derivatives. Diverse international efforts to break the link between mineral commerce and conflict in central Africa have been proposed or are under way. Key initiatives include government and industry-led mineral tracking and certification schemes. These...

Change in the Middle East: Implications for U.S. Policy

The political change and unrest that have swept through the Middle East and North Africa since early 2011 are likely to have profound consequences for the pursuit of long-standing U.S. policy goals in the region with regard to regional security, global energy supplies, U.S. military access, bilateral trade and investment, counter-proliferation, counterterrorism, and the promotion of human rights. The profound changes in the region may alter the framework in which these goals are pursued and challenge the basic assumptions that have long guided U.S. policy.

This report assesses some of the...

Horn of Africa Region: The Humanitarian Crisis and International Response

As a result of the worst drought in 60 years, regional conflicts, and conflict within states, a humanitarian emergency of massive proportion has unfolded over the past year in the Horn of Africa region. Current estimates suggest that more than 13.3 million people are currently affected, 250,000 of whom need food assistance in the near term to avoid death. Somalia has been hardest hit so far, creating population displacement within its borders and a refugee crisis of nearly 1 million people in the region, primarily in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The international community continues to respond...

National Security Professionals and Interagency Reform: Proposals, Recent Experience, and Issues for Congress

There is a growing consensus among many practitioners and scholars, across the political spectrum, broadly in favor of reforming the U.S. government interagency system to encourage a more effective application of all elements of national power. The reform debates have included proposals and initiatives to establish and foster an interagency community of national security professionals (NSPs) from all relevant departments and agencies. According to proponents, NSPs, through participating in activities that might include shared educational and training opportunities, and rotational tours in...

Africa: U.S. Foreign Assistance Issues

This report discusses the issue of U.S. economic assistance to sub-Saharan Africa, highlighting the importance of continued assistance in light of U.S. national security and also various U.S.-led efforts to promote reform amongst African citizens themselves. U.S. assistance finds its way to Africa through a variety of channels, including the USAID-administered DA program, food aid programs, and indirect aid provided through international financial institutions and the United Nations.

The Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and Current Developments

This report discusses in brief the current political state of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the crisis situation in eastern Congo that has displaced more than 250,000 civilians. It also describes U.S., U.N., and other international efforts to aid in resolving the crisis.

Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace

Tanzania: Background and Current Conditions

This report discusses the current political climate in Tanzania, an important U.S. ally in Africa. The report also provides some general background information.

International Criminal Court Cases in Africa: Status and Policy Issues

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has, to date, opened cases exclusively in Africa. Cases concerning 25 individuals are open before the Court, pertaining to crimes allegedly committed in six African states: Libya, Kenya, Sudan (Darfur), Uganda (the Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA), the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. A 26th case, against a Darfur rebel commander, was dismissed. The ICC Prosecutor has yet to secure any convictions. In addition, the Prosecutor has initiated preliminary examinations—a potential precursor to a full investigation—in Côte...

Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa

In recent years, analysts and U.S. policymakers have noted Africa’s growing strategic importance to U.S. interests. Among those interests are the increasing importance of Africa’s natural resources, particularly energy resources, and mounting concern over violent extremist activities and other potential threats posed by under-governed spaces, such as maritime piracy and illicit trafficking. In addition, there is ongoing concern for Africa’s many humanitarian crises, armed conflicts, and more general challenges, such as the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS. In 2006, Congress authorized a...

Asylum and “Credible Fear” Issues in U.S. Immigration Policy

Foreign nationals seeking asylum must demonstrate a well-founded fear that if returned home, they will be persecuted based upon one of five characteristics: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Foreign nationals arriving or present in the United States may apply for asylum affirmatively with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security after arrival into the country, or they may seek asylum defensively before a Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)...

Uganda: Current Conditions and the Crisis in North Uganda

Kenya: Current Conditions and the Challenges Ahead

Rwanda: Background and Current Developments

This report discusses the current political conditions of Rwanda, including a brief historical overview. The report also includes information about the poor human rights conditions in Rwanda and U.S. Rwanda relations.

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa: The FY2012 Request

Sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s poorest region, receives over a quarter of all U.S. bilateral foreign assistance. Aid to Africa more than quadrupled over the past decade, primarily due to sizable increases in global health spending during the Bush Administration and more measured increases in development, economic, and security assistance. The Obama Administration’s FY2012 bilateral Africa aid budget request, at $7.8 billion, represents an increase of roughly 10% compared to FY2010, albeit at a more restrained growth rate than in previous years (see “The FY2012 Request by the Numbers”)....

Osama bin Laden’s Death: Implications and Considerations

The May 1, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden (OBL) by U.S. forces in Pakistan has led to a range of views about near- and long-term security and foreign policy implications for the United States. Experts have a range of views about the killing of OBL. Some consider his death to be a largely symbolic event, while others believe it marks a significant achievement in U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Individuals suggesting that his death lacks great significance argue that U.S. and allied actions had eroded OBL’s ability to provide direction and support to Al Qaeda (AQ). For these analysts, OBL’s...

Côte d’Ivoire Post-Gbagbo: Crisis Recovery

Côte d’Ivoire is emerging from a severe political-military crisis that followed a disputed November 28, 2010, presidential runoff election between former president Laurent Gbagbo and his, former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara. Both claimed electoral victory and formed opposing governments. Their rivalry spurred a full-scale civil military conflict in early March 2011, after months of growing political violence. Armed conflict largely ended days after Gbagbo’s arrest by pro-Ouattara forces, aided by United Nations (U.N.) and French peacekeepers, but limited residual fighting was...

Piracy off the Horn of Africa

Pirate attacks in the waters off Somalia and the Horn of Africa, including those on U.S.-flagged vessels, have brought renewed international attention to the long-standing problem of maritime piracy. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), at least 219 attacks occurred in the region in 2010, with 49 successful hijackings. Somali pirates have attacked ships in the Gulf of Aden, along Somalia’s eastern coastline, and outward into the Indian Ocean. Using increasingly sophisticated tactics, these pirates now operate as far east as the Maldives in good weather, and as far south as...

Operation Odyssey Dawn (Libya): Background and Issues for Congress

This report provides an overview of military operations in Libya under U.S. command from March 19 to March 29, 2011, and the most recent developments with respect to the transfer of command of military operations from the United States to NATO on March 30.

The ongoing uprising in Libya against the government of Muammar al Qadhafi has been the subject of evolving domestic and international debate about potential international military intervention, including the proposed establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya. On March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution...

Sexual Violence in African Conflicts

Civilians in Africa’s conflict zones—particularly women and children, but also men—are often vulnerable to sexual violence, including rape, assault, mutilation, and sexual slavery. This violence is carried out by a range of actors, including government security forces, rebel groups, militias, and criminal organizations. Some abuses appear to be opportunistic, the product of a larger breakdown in the rule of law and social order that may occur amid conflict. In other cases, attacks appear to be carried out systematically by combatants as a strategic tool to intimidate and humiliate civilian...

Al Qaeda and Affiliates: Historical Perspective, Global Presence, and Implications for U.S. Policy

Al Qaeda (AQ) has evolved into a significantly different terrorist organization than the one that perpetrated the September 11, 2001, attacks. At the time, Al Qaeda was composed mostly of a core cadre of veterans of the Afghan insurgency against the Soviet Union, with a centralized leadership structure made up mostly of Egyptians. Most of the organization’s plots either emanated from the top or were approved by the leadership. Some analysts describe pre-9/11 Al Qaeda as akin to a corporation, with Osama Bin Laden acting as an agile chief executive officer issuing orders and soliciting...

South Africa: Current Issues and U.S. Relations

Over fifteen years after the South African majority gained its independence from white minority rule under apartheid, a system of racial segregation, the Republic of South Africa is firmly established as a regional power. With Africa’s largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a diverse economy, and a government that has played an active role in promoting regional peace and stability, South Africa is poised to have a substantial impact on the economic and political future of Africa. The country is also playing an increasingly prominent role in the G20 and other international fora. South Africa...

Ghana, an Emergent Oil Producer: Background and U.S. Relations

This report provides information on current developments in Ghana and Ghanaian-U.S. relations, which are close. Warm bilateral relations were signaled by President Barack Obama's July 2009 trip to Ghana. Ghana was chosen for his first travel as president to Africa because of its democratic and economic development successes. In Ghana, President Obama made the last of a four-part thematic series of major overseas speeches on key foreign policy issues. The speech in Ghana, to the national parliament, centered on the integral relationship between democracy, good governance, and development in...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 110th Congress, 2007-2008

The appointment process for advice and consent positions consists of three main stages. The first stage is selection, clearance, and nomination by the President. This step includes preliminary vetting, background checks, and ethics checks of potential nominees. At this stage, the president may also consult with Senators who are from the same party if the position is located in a state. The second stage of the process is consideration of the nomination in the Senate, most of which takes place in committee. Finally, if a nomination is approved by the full Senate, the nominee is given a...

Countering Terrorism in East Africa: The U.S. Response

The United States government has implemented a range of programs to counter violent extremist threats in East Africa in response to Al Qaeda’s bombing of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and subsequent transnational terrorist activity in the region. These programs include regional and bilateral efforts, both military and civilian. The programs seek to build regional intelligence, military, law enforcement, and judicial capacities; strengthen aviation, port, and border security; stem the flow of terrorist financing; and counter the spread of extremist ideologies. Current...

Sudan: The Crisis in Darfur and Status of the North-South Peace Agreement

This report discusses the history of Sudan's civil unrest and the subsequent crisis in Darfur, as well as United Nations and United States aid and peacekeeping efforts, and current related policy under the Obama Administration.

Instability and Humanitarian Conditions in Chad

As the Sahel region weathers another year of drought and poor harvests, the political and security situation in Chad remains volatile, compounding a worsening humanitarian situation in which some 2 million Chadians are at risk of hunger. In the western Sahelian region of the country, the World Food Program warns that an estimated 60% of households, some 1.6 million people, are currently food insecure. Aid organizations warn that the situation is critical, particularly for remote areas in the west with little international aid presence, and that the upcoming rainy season is likely to...

Guinea’s New Transitional Government: Emerging Issues for U.S. Policy

A “government of national unity” was formed in Guinea on January 15, 2010, a year after a military junta, the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), took power in a coup d’état. While the CNDD has not been dissolved, it has agreed to share power with civilian opposition groups in the lead-up to presidential elections, scheduled for June 27, 2010. Defense Minister Sekouba Konate has assumed executive power as interim president, while opposition spokesman Jean-Marie Dore was named prime minister.

The formation of a unity government followed six weeks of political uncertainty...

Illegal Drug Trade in Africa: Trends and U.S. Policy

Africa has historically held a peripheral role in the transnational illicit drug trade, but in recent years has increasingly become a locus for drug trafficking, particularly of cocaine. Recent estimates suggest that in recent years, apart from late 2008 and 2009, between 46 and 300 metric tons of South American cocaine may have transited West Africa en route to Europe. Recent cocaine seizure levels are sharply higher than those in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which in all of Africa rarely exceeded 1 metric ton a year. Africa’s emergence as a trafficking nexus appears to have resulted...

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and Current Issues

This report provides background on U.S. public diplomacy, and discusses the United States information agency, current structure of public diplomacy within the Department of State, and the public diplomacy budget.

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and Current Issues

Public diplomacy is defined in different ways, but broadly it is a term used to describe a government’s efforts to conduct foreign policy and promote national interests through direct outreach and communication with the population of a foreign country. Public diplomacy activities include providing information to foreign publics through broadcast and Internet media and at libraries and other outreach facilities in foreign countries; conducting cultural diplomacy, such as art exhibits and music performances; and administering international educational and professional exchange programs. The...

Comparing Global Influence: China’s and U.S. Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Trade, and Investment in the Developing World

This report compares the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) and U.S. projections of global influence, with an emphasis on non-coercive means or “soft power,” and suggests ways to think about U.S. foreign policy options in light of China’s emergence. Part One discusses U.S. foreign policy interests, China’s rising influence, and its implications for the United States. Part Two compares the global public images of the two countries and describes PRC and U.S. uses of soft power tools, such as public diplomacy, state diplomacy, and foreign assistance. It also examines other forms of soft power...

Presidential Appointments to Full-time Positions in Executive Departments During the 109th Congress, 2005-2006

During the 109th Congress, the President submitted to the Senate 283 nominations to executive department full-time positions. Of these 283 nominations, 233 were confirmed; nine were withdrawn; and 41 were returned to him in accordance with Senate rules. For those nominations that were confirmed, an average of 75 days elapsed between nomination and confirmation. The median number of days elapsed was 57. These statistics do not include the days during which the Senate was adjourned for its summer recesses and between sessions of Congress.

President George W. Bush made a total of 13 recess...

Islam in Africa

The Central African Republic

Nigeria: Background and U.S. Relations

Presidential Appointments to Full-time Positions in Executive Departments During the 108th Congress, 2003-2004

During the 108th Congress, the President submitted to the Senate 166 nominations to executive department full-time positions. Of these 166 nominations, 120 were confirmed; eight were withdrawn; one was returned to the President at the end of the first session; and 37 were returned to him at the end of the second session of the 108th Congress. For those nominations that were confirmed, an average of 98 days elapsed between the time of the nomination and the nomination’s receipt and confirmation. The median number of days elapsed was 83. These statistics do not include the days during which...

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade: Key Issues for the 110th Congress

The 110th Congress will face a number of pressing foreign affairs, defense, and trade issues in the opening days of its tenure. This report identifies major issues most likely to be on the legislative agenda, discusses critical policy choices at stake, and summarizes some of the major alternatives that Congress may consider. The report lists Congressional Research Service reports that address these issues, and it identifies key analysts and their areas of responsibility.

A major issue confronting the new Congress is what to do in Iraq. The Baker/Hamilton-led Iraq Study Group recommended...

International Efforts to Control the Spread of the Avian Influenza (H5N1) Virus: Affected Countries’ Responses

A strain of the avian influenza virus known as H5N1 threatens to develop into a human pandemic. First appearing in birds and humans in Hong Kong in 1997, the virus re-surfaced in late 2003 and since has spread throughout Asia, causing over 100 reported human deaths from Vietnam to Turkey and appearing in birds in Africa and Europe. The strain is considered particularly dangerous because of its human fatality rate to date of over 50% and because of the risk that the virus may develop the ability to pass efficiently between humans.

This report focuses on the efforts of overseas governments...

Nigeria in Political Transition

On June 8, 1998, General Sani Abacha, the military leader who took power in Nigeria in 1993, died of a reported heart attack and was replaced by General Abdulsalam Abubakar. General Abubakar released political prisoners and initiated political, economic, and social reforms. Relations between the United States and Nigeria improved with the subsequent transfer of power to a civilian government. Nigeria continues to make progress in strengthening its fragile democracy but faces serious economic challenges. Nigeria remains relatively stable, although ethnic and religious clashes in some parts...

China and Sub-Saharan Africa

Liberia's Post-War Transition: Key Issues

Liberia appears on course to hold elections in October 2005, a key goal of a peace accord signed in August 2003. It ended Liberia's second civil war in a decade, and led to the current post-war transition process, which is U.S.-aided. Liberia's security situation is stable but subject to periodic volatility. Humanitarian conditions are improving. Progress on governance has been mixed. The case of Liberia's former president, Charles Taylor, a war crimes indictee living in exile in Nigeria, remains unresolved. This periodically updated report augments CRS Report RL32243 , ...

Democratic Republic of Congo: Transitional Process and U.N. Mission

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is expected to hold local and national elections in mid-2005, as called for in the 2002 South African-sponsored Pretoria Agreement. The Transitional Government faces daunting challenges. The eastern part of the country is marred by insecurity and instability due to factional fighting and the presence of the Interhamwe, the group responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami: Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Operations

On December 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia, unleashed a tsunami that affected more than 12 countries throughout south and southeast Asia and stretched as far as the northeastern African coast. Current official estimates indicate that more than 250,000 people are dead or missing and millions of others are affected, including those injured or displaced, making this the deadliest tsunami on record. Sections of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand have suffered the worst devastation. In response, the United Nations, the...

Removing Terrorist Sanctuaries: The 9/11 Commission Recommendations and U.S. Policy

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission) issued its final report on July 19, 2004. A major recommendation in the report was that the U.S. government should identify and prioritize actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries and, for each, to employ a realistic strategy to keep possible terrorists insecure and on the run, using all elements of national power. U.S. strategy to combat global terrorism, even prior to 9/11, included efforts to deny sanctuary to terrorist groups by isolating and applying pressure on states that sponsor or...

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade: Key Issues for the 109th Congress

The 109th Congress will likely address a number of pressing foreign affairs, defense and trade issues. This report identifies the issues most likely to be taken up in the first session, and provides information and analysis to support Congress in shaping U.S. policy on these key issues. The report also provides lists of selected CRS products that provide more detailed analysis. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress has increasingly been confronted with issues relating to the war on terrorism and homeland security. Congress will likely be particularly interested in...

Botswana: The San (Bushmen) Rights Case

In November 2004, the San people of Botswana are expected to continue their court case against the government of Botswana. The San argue that they were illegally removed from their ancestral land within the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). International human rights groups contend that the manner in which the San were removed violated international human rights laws. The discovery of diamond reserves within the CKGR has led advocacy groups to argue that the San have been removed to allow diamond mining to go ahead in the CKGR. Both the government of Botswana and leading diamond mining...

Africa: Development Issues and Policy Options

Sub-Saharan Africa has been a focus for U.S. development assistance for decades. Many believe that U.S. interests in the region are increasing, partly because of its oil resources and the international terrorist threat. However, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Africa faces grave challenges that potentially threaten long-term stability, including the world's most serious HIV/AIDS pandemic, widespread rural poverty, and high levels of urban unemployment. In constant dollar terms, incomes in Africa are only about $100 higher than in 1960. Recently, gross domestic product (GDP)...

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2004 and FY2005: State Department and Foreign Assistance

The foreign relations authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State (within the Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agency appropriation) and foreign policy/foreign aid activities (within the foreign operations appropriation). Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. Foreign assistance authorization measures (such as authorization for the U.S. Agency for International Development, economic and military assistance to...

Liberia: 1989-1997 Civil War, Post-War Developments, and U.S. Relations

This report covers Liberia's first civil conflict (1989-1997), post-war developments until roughly 2001, and the history of U.S.-Liberian relations and U.S. policy toward Liberia. Subsequent, more recent events are covered in CRS Report RL32243 , Liberia: Transition to Peace . The modern Liberian state was founded by "Americo-Liberians," black freemen and former slaves from the Americas who settled in Liberia beginning in 1821. State structure and society in contemporary Liberia reflect a blending of indigenous and Americo-Liberian cultural and political influences, but the latter...

The Sudan Peace Process

Iraq's Economy: Past, Present, Future

This report discusses the government of Iraq and its active role in stimulating and directing the Iraqi economy.This report identifies issues to be addressed before Iraq can participate normally in the world economy.

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 107th Congress, 2001-2002

During the 107th Congress, 354 nominations to executive department full-time positions were submitted to the Senate. Of these nominations, seven were submitted by President Clinton before he left office and were withdrawn by President Bush on March 19, 2001. President Bush submitted 347 nominations, of which 297 were confirmed, two were withdrawn, 35 were returned to him at the August 2001 recess, one was returned to him at the adjournment of the first session, and 12 were returned to him at the end of the 107th Congress. President Clinton made eight recess appointments during the...

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade: Key Issues for the 108th Congress

The 108th Congress will be faced early on with a number of pressing foreign affairs, defense, and trade issues. This report provides background information on the issues most likely to be taken up in the first session, analyzes the congressional role in shaping U.S. policy on these key issues, and lists CRS products that provide more detailed discussion and analysis. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon dramatically altered the U.S. political environment, pushing issues of war and homeland security to the top of the policy agenda. Of particular concern to...

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2003: An Overview

Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. The authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State (within the Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agency appropriation) and foreign policy/foreign aid activities (within the foreign operations appropriation). While Congress intended the legislation would serve as authorization for both FY2002 and FY2003, the delay in getting it through Congress led to a waiver of the authorization...

Africa: Scaling Up the Response To the HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Sub-Saharan Africa's AIDS pandemic continues to spread -- an estimated 3.4 million people were newly infected by HIV in 2001. International resources for combating the pandemic are increasing, and there is continuing interest in proposals for a further "scaling-up." In December 2001, the House passed the Global Access to HIV/AIDS Prevention, Awareness, and Treatment Act ( H.R. 2069 ), finding that the African pandemic has become a national security and development crisis and authorizing increased funding. AIDS experts see three dimensions to the effort to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS and...

Sierra Leone: Transition to Peace

On May 14, 2002, Sierra Leoneans voted in the first national elections to be held since 1996, following an extensive, United Nations (U.N.)-assisted poll preparation process. The election followed the successful completion of a U.N.-sponsored national disarmament process in January 2002, when government, U.N., and RUF officials formally declared an end to Sierra Leone's decade-old conflict. Initial poll results indicated that President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the incumbent, would win the election, but he reportedly garnered less than 20 % of the military vote. A special court of mixed...

Angola: Recent Developments and U.S. Policy

A permanent cease-fire agreement between the Angolan government and its long-time military adversary, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) was signed on April 4, 2002. The accord provides for the demobilization of UNITA’s forces, and for their integration into a unified national military. Under a separate law passed prior to ratification of the accord, UNITA’s armed forces will receive a general amnesty for wartime offenses committed against the state and Angolan people. The agreement followed the death of Jonas Savimbi, the founder and long-time leader of UNITA,...

Zimbabwe: Election Chronology

This chronology, which begins in January 2002, covers events surrounding the March 2002 presidential election that took place in Zimbabwe. It will not be updated. For further information on Zimbabwe, see CRS Report RL31229(pdf) , Zimbabwe Backgrounder.

Zimbabwe Backgrounder

In late 2001, political tensions were mounting in Zimbabwe as a March 2002 presidential election approached. There were several incidents of political violence, and President Robert Mugabe issued a new decree to accelerate the forcible takeover of white-owned farms. The move was widely interpreted as violating a September 2001 agreement, signed in Abuja, Nigeria, committing the government to proceed with land redistribution only with "due regard" for the rule of law. The government was also preparing to introduce legislation to ban foreign reporters from Zimbabwe and to require Zimbabwe...

Zimbabwe: Current Issues

U.S. policy-makers once saw Zimbabwe as a source of political and economic stability in southern Africa, but with the failure of Zimbabwe’s economic reform program and mounting unrest in the 1990s, U.S. assistance levels fell sharply. Aid now focuses on programs to strengthen democracy, raise living standards among the poor, and fight the AIDS epidemic. In 2000, the United States strongly criticized pre-election violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe. In June 2001, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs warned that the United States and Zimbabwe could not have normal...

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Peace Process and Background

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, is a vast, resource-rich country of nearly 50 million people. In August 1998, Congo was plunged into its second civil war in 2 years. A peace accord was concluded in Lusaka, Zambia, in July and August 1999, and the United Nations later agreed to send peace monitors and protecting troops, in a force known as MONUC, to assist in the peace process. Deployment was slow, but the assassination of President Laurent Kabila on January 16, 2001, was followed by progress in the peace process under a new regime headed by Joseph Kabila, Laurent’s...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Executive Departments During the 106th Congress, 1999-2000

This report focuses on presidential nominations and Senate confirmations to the 330 full-time positions in the 14 executive departments to which the President makes appointments, with the advice and consent of the Senate. During the 106th Congress, President Clinton submitted 136 nominations and made 18 recess appointments to full-time positions requiring Senate confirmation. The Senate confirmed 108 nominations and returned 24; the President withdrew four nominations. On average, the Senate took 105 days (three and a half months) to confirm a nomination. Sixty-eight nominations (63%)...

Africa Backgrounder: History, U.S. Policy, Principal Congressional Actions

Congress has dealt repeatedly with issues related to sub-Saharan Africa since the late 1950s. This report provides basic background on Africa and its history, U.S. policy, and congressional involvement, for the general congressional reader. The modern human species is believed to have emerged in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago. Perhaps 2,500 years ago, the Bantu people began to expand from a West African base, gradually spreading a complex agricultural system over much of the continent. Africanists generally agree that loyalties to large ethnic groups, a key factor in African...

HIV-1/AIDS and Military Manpower Policy

In October 1985, the Department of Defense (DOD) began screening all applicants for military service for Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 or HIV-1. Such screening was controversial. Since then, DOD has taken other actions and issued guidlelines on various aspects of its AIDS policy which have been carefully watched and scrutinized by Congress, and other Federal and State agencies because of their ground-breaking nature. This report examines aspects of DOD policy on HIV-1/AIDS and legislation introduced to modify this policy. Under current DOD policy, applicants who test positive for HIV-1...

The Ethiopia-Eritrea Conflict

Algeria: Developments and Dilemmas

This report provides background information on the civil strife in Algeria, updating developments since the government abandoned talks with the Islamist Salvation Front in 1995 and began a process of institution-building. The result, however, did not restore peace. Rather, violence has become more indiscriminate. The culprits are harder to identify and may include government forces as well as Islamist extremists. Policymakers face the dilemma of wishing to hold the government to a higher standard of conduct as the upholder of the rule of law, while not wanting terrorists to benefit...

Kenya: The Challenges Ahead