US policy towards Africa is controversial and varied. North Africa has its own focus for US interests which are significantly different than sub-Saharan Africa. Tunisia being in the dead center of the North African coast puts it right in the middle of US foreign policy. “Virtually all discussions of U.S. interests in North Africa start with the region’s strategic location. Perhaps the only time that U.S.-North African relations were near the top of U.S. foreign-policy concerns goes back to the early 1800s and the so-called ‘Barbary Wars.’” Later in the 20th century US policy changed course a bit. As colonial Africa fell apart into bloody independence movements the global super powers began to reach their hands in to pick up and salvage what it could for the sake of security and economic incentives. “Throughout the Cold War, U.S. relations with North Africa were defined by America’s broader struggle with the Soviet Union” (Hemmer). Read More
Algeria, 0930 hours, December 11th 2007: A suicide bomber blows the front off a building that was home to the Algeria’s Constitutional Council. Barely ten minutes later, another bomber attacked a United Nations building using a “truck containing 1,800 pounds of explosives” effectively leveling part of the structure. The death total was forty-two people,”including 17 U.N. employees” with another 158 other injured courtesy of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM.[i] Read More
Piracy off the coast of Somalia splashed onto the global stage in 2009 at near epidemic levels. The impact of Somali piracy affected the entire global community as shipping costs soared costing the global community as much as $18 Billion.[i] The wave of piracy attacks however was short lived due to a quick and comprehensive response by the international community to counter piracy and its causes. The world’s response to Somalia continues today and is a reversal of 20 years of alienation prior; that made possible Somalia’s de-evolution into a failed state that the world ignored and feared simultaneously. The success countering the three-year piracy epidemic however shadows the success of piracy for Somalia by demanding attention and assistance for a withering nation – in effect: piracy saved Somalia. Read More
If you attended or watched online (as I did) the USIP event this week in DC you would have seen that the US is to appoint an ambassador to Somalia for the first time in in 20 years. The ambassador will be based out of Nairobi for the time being. This is excellent news and is a sign of a new Somalia to come.
This is an interesting map shared with me by a friend who founded the American University War Studies group. It is great to see people finally following US Military involvement in Africa (particularly Sub-Saharan Africa of course. Though this has been coming for some time via AFRICOM. Africa is not a new thing. I was a member of the founding group of AFRICOM’s Intelligence Knowledge Directorate at Ft. Meade back in 2008 when it was stood up as a slice element from EUCOM. This was 6 years ago so nothing is that new in Africa.
Also remember that we have military people in nearly every country on the planet stationed in embassies as part of the Marine Security Groups and via the Defense Attaches, and various liaison and technically any NSA members (as NSA falls under DOD). The problem is that most people view deployment of personnel as a black or white issue – usually based off when they see a press release of sending “troops” to a country. It is critical that you realize these are scalable forces, meant to be able to shift the numbers from 1 to 1,000 when things heat up. This does include numbers of clandestine operatives in countries for acute or persistent operations.
These are some great images and even a brief video to add to it. Two points: 1) Why is it the short guy always carries the biggest gun? 2) Thank you Italian Colonizers for bringing espresso to Somalia.
Seeing the Boko Haram situation in Nigeria bring international engagement is promising. Assistance is coming in, in a few difference ways. It was not surprising to see the US involved by sending experts to provide guidance. It also was not surprising to see the UK involved considering their colonial history (we are seeing much more of this colonial return to assist with France in Mali and CAR). Several countries are assisting now in Nigeria to include – and this one is surprising – Israel. Yes Israelis are now on the ground in Nigeria assisting.
This is a rising situation that in many ways, mirror Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden and around East Africa. It is critical that the world recognizes the importance of the Gulf of Guinea and the greater West African region. I hope that the increased media attention from the 2-300 young females kidnapped by Boko Haram that hit the Western media this week, will bring global attention to Nigeria.
Whether the world wants to ignore Nigeria or not, come 2015 there is little chance that they will be able to. In 2015, Nigeria’s election will surely bring a conflict between the nations factions to include Boko Haram and the MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) who continue to pose a threat to regional and national security. To better understand the simmering explosion that Nigeria is I recommend checking out David Kilcullen’s recently published Out of the Mountains book that details the Nigerian urban & peri-urban environments and their propensity to develop into a full violent collapse.
Time Magazine just published an article on US Foreign aid. It includes top foreign aid recipients by region and country. I get why Afghanistan is the highest recipient of aid here, however there are a few disturbing issues with some of the other countries on here being so high while more strategic countries are not even in the top ten. To begin with, why is Israel higher than Iraq? Israel is a key strategic ally but for gods sake we poured for more of an investment into Iraq and it should be out-ranking Israel by at least a couple billion. If I had the ability to reorganize this list it would look something like this: