Publications by Patricia Taft

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Conflict Bulletin: Bayelsa State - January 2014

Published January 31, 2014 | By Patricia Taft

With 1.7 million people, Bayelsa is one of the smallest states in the country, by population. Most are of Ijaw descent. Bayelsa produces between 30-40% of Nigeria’s oil and gas. In addition to the petroleum sector, the state has an extensive commercial fishing industry and produces oil palm, raffia palm, rubber, and coconut. In February 2012, Henry Dickson (PDP) was elected as governor after a period of uncertainty in the wake of Governor Timipre Sylva’s termination in January 2012. Over the last 3 1/2 years, incidents of insecurity in Bayelsa included cult violence, abductions, and attacks on energy infrastructure. Conflict factors were mainly reported around the capital of Yenagoa.

Conflict Bulletin: Ondo State - January 2014

Published January 31, 2014 | By Patricia Taft

Ondo state has a population of approximately 3.44 million according to the most recent census (2006). The majority are of Yoruba descent, with a sizable minority of those from Ijaw subgroups, particularly along the coast. Ondo derives most of its revenue from the production of cocoa, palm oil, rubber, lumber, and cassava. Approximately 65% of the labor force is employed in the agrarian sector. The state is also rich in oil and minerals. On a per capita basis, violence in Ondo was relatively low in comparison to the other Niger Delta states according to Nigeria Watch data. It did, however, see a gradual increase in reported insecurity throughout 2012-2013.

Conflict Bulletin: Delta State - January 2014

Published January 31, 2014 | By Patricia Taft

Delta is the second most populous state in the Niger Delta, with an estimated 4.1 million people. The state produces about 35% of Nigeria’s crude oil and a considerable amount of its natural gas. It is also rich in root and tuber crops, such as potatoes, yams, cassava, and coco yams. Delta has a legacy of ethnic and political tensions which flared in the late 1990s and again in 2003. The 2009 Amnesty Program was instrumental in reducing violence and fatalities associate with militancy. In 2010, however, there was a spike in insurgency/counter-insurgency activity with a notable incident that reportedly occurred in the Burutu Local Government Area (LGA) in December.

Conflict Bulletin: Rivers State - January 2014

Published January 31, 2014 | By Patricia Taft

Among the largest of the oil-producing Nigerian states, Rivers had been at the heart of the Niger Delta militancy until 2009. Currently, the state is beset with a different array of issues as some former combatants have turned to criminality and uneven economic development continues to pose a challenge to sustainable peace and human security. The following bulletin is a closer look at the patterns of conflict risk at the local level.

Conflict Bulletin: Adamawa State - January 2014

Published January 10, 2014 | By Patricia Taft*

Formed in 1991, Adamawa is one of the largest states in Nigeria. Located in the country’s northeast, it borders Cameroon to the east, Borno state to the north, Gombe state to the west, and Taraba state to the south. Its position makes it a key corridor between Borno, a hub of Boko Haram activity, and other states. Its population of about 3.5 million are mainly made up of farmers and cattle herders. The economy is predominately agriculture, although the state also has some mineral wealth. Common crops include maize, millet, sorghum, rice, yams, and cassava. Cotton and groundnuts are also produced as cash crops.

The Central African Republic: A Failing State in Free Fall

Published November 27, 2013 | By Patricia Taft
Every year, when the Failed States Index is published, we are asked to provide an example of a state that is failing “quietly.” A state that, except perhaps for a handful of concerned parties and outside business interests, does not make most international priority lists. And every year we mention the Central African Republic (CAR). This impoverished, deeply underdeveloped, diamond-rich country is in a very bad neighborhood indeed. Now, however, the country has become a fulcrum of instability in its own right. One that, without some immediate efforts to stop what has been rightfully termed by the International Crisis Group as a “free fall,” is bound to set off a new wave of catastrophe in beleaguered Central Africa.

Liberia: Ten Years On

Published November 18, 2013 | By Patricia Taft
Monrovia, Liberia: Nearly ten years ago last month, in October of 2003, I first visited Liberia. Back then, the war that had consumed the country and killed and maimed thousands was only weeks in its ending. In the capital, Monrovia, children as young as six were standing on the side of the road holding rusted out AK-47s with twitchy fingers, eyes bloodshot from whatever combination of drugs their “commanders” had given them to compel their participation in horrible actions. Back then, the FFP was researching the willingness and ability of African nations to undertake peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention missions. Liberia was one of the early test cases and, by most lights, was a successful one.

Behind the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize: What is the OPCW?

Published October 11, 2013 | Patricia Taft and Jacob Grunberger
This morning the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This decision seems to be consistent with last year’s decision-making calculus to award the prize to an institution for the purpose of boosting its notoriety and to lend legitimacy to future endeavors.

Terror Strikes Nairobi Again

Published September 23, 2013 | By Patricia Taft
The tragedy of the rampage at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya hit close to home for many of us at the Fund for Peace. Like countless others working the fields of international development, defense and business in Africa, most of us have had the occasion to spend time in Nairobi over the years. Nairobi has long served as a hub in East Africa and Kenya has been one of the continental leaders in Africa on everything from providing peacekeepers to the world’s most dangerous places to combating terrorism at home and further afield. It is in these last efforts, Kenya’s participation in the war on terrorism, which may have brought the tragedy home to Nairobi this weekend. It is also yet another example that underscores the dangers to innocent civilians emanating from neighboring weak and failed states and the half-measures employed to deal with them.

Getting Serious About Chemical Weapons

Published September 20, 2013 | By Patricia Taft, Jacob Grunberger

With dueling opinion pieces gracing the pages of the American and Russian press by presidents and senators, and months of strategizing, vacillating, and handwringing, the crisis over the use of chemical weapons in Syria is a problem that seems to be going nowhere meaningful fast. The genesis of the latest crisis was the August 21, 2013 series of missile strikes on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, a neighborhood suspected of harboring militant forces opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Soon after, videos and images began to surface depicting dead civilians, including children, who appeared to bear no signs of injuries resulting from explosives or conventional weapons fire.