Coup predictions: Africa doesn't look as volatile as you might think
Recent coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau don't amount to a big continental shift, according to a new statistical analysis.
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Of his top ten most at risk countries (he provides a chart of the 40 most "at risk" countries, in his estimation) eight are in Africa, with Guinea-Bissau at No. 2, and Mali at 10. Niger, which has some similarities with Mali (a restive Tuareg population and a history of entanglement with Muammar Qaddafi's Libya) is number one. Rounding out the list in order are Chad, Guinea, Madagascar, Congo, Mauritania, Bangladesh, and the Central African Republic. Sudan is No. 11, with practically the same score as Mali.Skip to next paragraph
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His assessment of risk isn't a prediction that a coup is highly likely in a given country in a given year, just of danger. As he writes: "As usual with all statistical forecasts of rare events, the estimates are mostly close to zero. (On average, only a handful of coup attempts occur worldwide each year, and they’ve become even rarer since the end of the Cold War; see this earlier post for details)."
And remember, "coup" and "uprising" are not the same thing, as is the case of Syria, which didn't crack his top 40.
"To make sense of this forecast, it’s important to note that assigning a low probability to the occurrence of a coup attempt in Syria in 2012 isn’t the same thing as a prediction that President Bashar al-Assad or his regime will survive the year. It might seem like semantic hair-splitting, but the definitions of coups used to construct the data on which these forecasts are based do not include cases where national leaders resign under pressure or are toppled by rebel groups. So the Syria forecast suggests only that Assad is unlikely to be overthrown by his own security forces. As it happens, my analysis of countries most likely to see democratic transitions in 2012 put Syria in the top 10 on that list."
I've really enjoyed poking about in his blog archives and highly recommend giving Dart-Throwing Chimp a look.
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