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.
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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More