News / Africa

Africa Security Challenges Demand Obama's Attention

President Obama takes the oath of office at the official swearing-in ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House, January 20, 2013. President Obama takes the oath of office at the official swearing-in ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House, January 20, 2013.
x
President Obama takes the oath of office at the official swearing-in ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House, January 20, 2013.
President Obama takes the oath of office at the official swearing-in ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House, January 20, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Gabe Joselow
— As U.S. President Barack Obama begins his second term in office, his administration faces urgent security challenges in Africa.  Top on the list is the conflict in Mali, which analysts say may cause the United States to rethink its counterterrorism strategy in Africa.

While U.S. drones and surveillance planes buzz the skies above conflict zones across Africa, the U.S. president has engaged little in African affairs.

President Barack Obama walks with Ghana President John Atta Mills, right, at the Presidential Palace in Accra, Ghana, Saturday, July 11, 2009.President Barack Obama walks with Ghana President John Atta Mills, right, at the Presidential Palace in Accra, Ghana, Saturday, July 11, 2009.
x
President Barack Obama walks with Ghana President John Atta Mills, right, at the Presidential Palace in Accra, Ghana, Saturday, July 11, 2009.
President Barack Obama walks with Ghana President John Atta Mills, right, at the Presidential Palace in Accra, Ghana, Saturday, July 11, 2009.
During his first term in office, Obama made only one trip to Africa - a stop in Ghana that lasted less than 24 hours.

But an Islamist militant insurgency in Mali, fueled by the North African branch of al-Qaida, could raise Africa's security challenges to a more prominent place on Obama's second-term agenda.

Paul-Simon Handy, the head of the conflict prevention and risk analysis division at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, said, "I think the Obama administration will focus a bit on that part of the continent as a global challenge, not only to state-building, but as a global terrorist challenge.”

To address the crisis in Mali, the U.S. is sending about 100 military trainers to countries in West Africa, contributing troops to a regional military force being deployed to support Mali's national army.

While this strategy of building the capacity of African militaries rather than deploying U.S. troops has been typical of the Obama administration's response to conflict in Africa, it does not always work.

In Mali, the United States has spent millions of dollars during the past decade training counter-terrorism forces, but still could not prevent the takeover of the country's north by Islamist militants.

Handy says to avoid past mistakes, the United States should put more effort into diplomatic engagement and working with African states to build solid government institutions.

"Focusing too much on the military has in a sense led to a setback in the democratic gains in certain regions like West Africa.  What the U.S. will have to change is to look at the fight against terrorism in a holistic way," he said.

In this photo released by the African Union-UN Information Support Team, Kenyan soldiers serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia at their sector headquarters in Dhobley, September 30, 2012.In this photo released by the African Union-UN Information Support Team, Kenyan soldiers serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia at their sector headquarters in Dhobley, September 30, 2012.
x
In this photo released by the African Union-UN Information Support Team, Kenyan soldiers serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia at their sector headquarters in Dhobley, September 30, 2012.
In this photo released by the African Union-UN Information Support Team, Kenyan soldiers serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia at their sector headquarters in Dhobley, September 30, 2012.
​Meantime, U.S. officials have been encouraged by the political and security progress made in Somalia during the past four years, which could be a clue as to how the country will engage Africa in the years ahead.

The United States been one of the biggest financial supporters of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, while Washington has also engaged Somali politicians throughout a long political transition.

In a speech last week, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson said the Obama administration's strategy in the country could serve as a “potential model for the resolution of other conflicts on the continent.”

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 21, 2013 3:38 PM
Excellent and very informative article. Unquestionably, Africa has been ignored, especially areas that are not heavily populated. To keep it short, three things go together: Peace, security, and development. Essentially, you can't have peace without development and without security. You can intermingle the 3 in any way; if any one is missing, it is a bad situation. Proactive initiative, over the long run, is always easier and more cost effective, than to wait for a failure, and then try to be reactive. In my opinion, the Western nations collectively need to help develop, secure, and promote peace, in Africa and any other areas, that need help/attention; it is the humane and the right approach.
Current terrorism, as we see it, is a form of religeous or and ideological tribalism. In regions were people are under-educated/under-developed, extreme ideologies can easily fill the structural voids, and even hold people hostage. The situation results from a lack of resources to improve all the basic aspects of people's daily lives. Most of what is required, could be achived through NGOs, including the security component.


by: Jessie Landman
January 21, 2013 1:40 PM
Iam sure there is another Country missing from the list much further South mmmmmm will have to get my atlas out cant figure out how this place escaped the attention of the USA and others?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid