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

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    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?

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.