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Africa: Continent to be Focus of Security Council This Month - President

UN News Service (New York)

2 August 2007
Posted to the web 3 August 2007

The August work programme for the Security Council will focus largely on issues affecting Africa, its President for the month announced today.

Briefing reporters at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Ambassador Pascal Gayama of the Republic of the Congo (ROC) said that the 15-member body will discuss the political aspect of the Darfur crisis next Thursday.

That meeting will take place after the Council earlier this week adopted a landmark resolution authorizing the creation of a hybrid African Union (AU)-UN operation to quell the violence in the Sudanese region.

The UN and AU Special Envoys for Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, will also host three days of talks in Arusha, Tanzania, beginning tomorrow with those rebel groups and militias that have not signed the Darfur Peace Agreement.

"We expect a lot from that because, as you know, the solution to the Darfur situation is not a military one," Mr. Gayama said. "It is political."

Additionally, the Council will take up Somalia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and - while not on the formal work programme - Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR).

The President also announced the convening of an open debate in the Council on the prevention and settlement of conflict in Africa to "come up with new ideas on what is to be done given that there are many factors and elements involved in prevention."

Also on the body's agenda are the impending expiration of the mandates of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Later this month, the Council will hold an open debate on the Middle East to assess the situation which "is greatly changing there this month," Mr. Gayama said.

Overall, he said "this is a month that should be lighter for everyone given the fact that there's the General Assembly, the major political event, in September."

AllAfrica aggregates and indexes content from over 125 African news organizations, plus more than 200 other sources, who are responsible for their own reporting and views. Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica.

United Nations Security Council to Focus on Continent This Month
Is China Hoodwinking the Continent? \\

Opening Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold on U.S. Africa Command Senate Hearing

Testimony of Jendayi Frazer - U.S. Senate Africom Hearing
U.S. House Hearing on Africom

Africa: Opening Statement at U.S. House of Representatives Africom Hearing

United States Congress (Washington, DC)

3 August 2007
Posted to the web 3 August 2007

Following is the Opening Statement of Donald M. Payne (Democrat-New Jersey), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa & Global Health at the hearing "Africa Command:

Opportunity for Engagement or the Militarization of the U.S. Africa Subcommittee on Relationship?" on August 2, 2007 as prepared for delivery.

Good afternoon and welcome.

Today the subcommittee will explore the administration's plans to establish a unified combatant command for the continent of Africa. At issue is how the administration plans to make sure that the new command enhances our relationship with African countries rather that becoming a source of tension and mistrust.

Up until now, three separate Department of Defense combatant commands have been responsible for covering Africa. Given the increasing strategic and diplomatic importance of Africa to the United States, setting up a new command makes sense. Africa should not be the neglected step child in organizations with other geographic priorities.

However, the establishment of this is more than a simple bureaucratic reorganization. What little the administration has clearly communicated about Africa command is that it will be different than other commands because of the development challenges within African countries.

The State Department and the Agency for International Development are to be an integral part of the command, according to State and Defense Department officials.

I agree with the assessment that the administration has made in terms of the need to ensure that the new command is structured to address problems many Africans face. They are confronted with issues related not only to conflict, but to resource scarcity, food insecurity, HIV/AIDS and collapsed states.

I believe that we have a moral obligation to assist the regions efforts to overcome these challenges.

To the extent that establishing a command where our relationship with Africa is the priority rather than an afterthought can help do so, I support it.

However, I do have some very serious concerns. One is about the administration's goals in setting up the command. On the one hand we have been told that the Department of Defense is not planning on taking on new tasks in Africa, that this is merely an organizational exercise.

On the other hand we are told that the State Department and the USAID are being brought into the command so that they can inform the Department of Defense as it structures its programs.

This implies that the programs, and perhaps even the tasks that DOD carries out will be significantly different in some respects.

My second concern is the way in which the initiative was announced and developed. I read about the administration's plans to establish a new command in the newspaper.

I have had more calls from the press than I have had from the Department of Defense.

There has been no consultation with this committee about the establishment or structure of the command. The few briefings that we have had-- which by the way are not consultations— have not been particularly informative.

All of which makes me wonder how our African partners and allies were informed about the initiative, and whether there has been genuine consultation with them.

Africans themselves seem somewhat skeptical, and perhaps downright cynical about the intentions of the United States. There are some who think this effort is a reaction to the presence of the Chinese.

There are others who believe that we are trying to extend the global war on terror. Still others are convinced that the United States is intent on protecting oil resources on the continent. I suspect that there is an element of truth to each of those rumors.

Finally, I am concerned about DOD's increasing involvement in foreign aid and foreign assistance. Congress has granted the Department of Defense new authorities to implement security assistance programs in coordination with the State Department.

However, as a February GAO report indicates, the degree of coordination has not been good at all. I am concerned that this could be the case with AFRICOM as well.

During the course of this hearing, I hope that administration officials will address those three issues, as well as questions regarding the principle mission of the new command, the structure of the command, where it might be located, and the level of resources such a command might need.

I appreciate your coming and look forward to your testimony. With that I turn to the Ranking Member, Mr. Smith.


The Honorable Michael E. Hess

The Honorable Stephen D. Mull

Ms. Theresa M. Whelan

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Mr. Kurt Shillinger

Wafula Okumu, Ph.D.

J. Peter Pham, Ph.D.

Africa: Opening Statement at U.S. House of Representatives Africom Hearing

Africa: Testimony of Dr. J. Peter Pham - U.S. House Africom Hearing

United States Congress (Washington, DC)

3 August 2007
Posted to the web 3 August 2007

Washington, D.C.

Testimony of Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director, The Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs, James Madison University, at the Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health hearing “Africa Command:

Opportunity for Engagement or the Militarization of the U.S. Africa Subcommittee on Relationship?” on August 2, 2007:

I am honored by the invitation to appear today before the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health and am grateful for the opportunity to add my voice to those of my distinguished colleagues on a subject which I have studied, written about, and advocated on behalf of, for a number of years: a United States Department of Defense regional unified combatant command for Africa that offers the potential for sustained engagement of a region where America has very real strategic interests.

Setting the Context of the New Engagement

I beg the Subcommittee’s indulgence to observe that we as a nation have indeed all come a very long way in recent years in our perceptions of Africa—some of us perhaps more than others.

With the anniversary on March 6 of this year of the independence of Ghana, we also mark the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the wave of national sovereignty that swept across Sub-Saharan Africa in the wake of the Second World War.

At that time, however, no part of the region was included in any U.S. military command’s Area of Responsibility (AOR) except for several North African countries which five years earlier had been tacked onto the U.S. European Command (EUCOM).

The rest of the continent was left unaccounted for the rest of the decade until 1960 when, following then-Vice President Richard Nixon’s extensive tour of the continent, President Dwight D. Eisenhower put then-Atlantic Command (LANTCOM) in charge of security planning for Sub-Saharan Africa just as he had previously created the Africa Bureau within the State Department to coordinate diplomatic initiatives.

Two years later, President John F. Kennedy transferred Sub-Saharan Africa into the Strike Command (STRICOM) AOR. From that time until the present, responsibility for defense planning affecting the continent has shifted a number of times as administrations came and went and geopolitical perceptions evolved over the course of the Cold War and its aftermath.

Just three years ago, when writing on the subject of a possible regional command for Africa, I was still being counseled by one editor to make sure that I couched the whole proposal as a hypothetical in the conditional tense.

[1] And going back a little farther to 2000, I can recall that a number of Africa’s friends—some of whom are in this room today—were quite disappointed when a certain Republican presidential candidate responded negatively to a question from PBS’s Jim Lehrer about whether Africa fit into his definition of the strategic interests of the United States: “At some point in time the president’s got to clearly define what the national strategic interests are, and while Africa may be important, it doesn’t fit into the national strategic interests, as far as I can see them.”[2]

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Yet almost seven years to the day later, on February 6, 2007, President George W. Bush announced the establishment of a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), directing the Department of Defense to stand it up by October 2008 and entrusting the new structure with the mission to “enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa and promote our common goals of development, health, education, democracy, and economic growth in Africa” by strengthening bilateral and multilateral security cooperation with African states and creating new opportunities to bolster their capabilities.[3]

I rehearse this history in order to lend some perspective to just how extraordinary the decision to set up AFRICOM as America’s sixth regional command really is.

As former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Princeton N. Lyman, who previously served as U.S. ambassador to South Africa and to Nigeria, has observed, the apparent strategic neglect of Africa nonetheless sadly reflects “what [has] in fact been the approach of both Democratic and Republican administrations for decades.”[4]

Historically, with the exception of Cold War period when concerns about Soviet attempts to secure a foothold on the continent drove U.S. policy, America generally perceived Africa as secondary to its foreign policy and other strategic objectives.

Thus, more often than not, American perspectives on Africa were framed almost exclusively in terms of preoccupation over the humanitarian consequences of poverty, war, and natural disaster.

Alas, as noble as these moral impulses have been, they lacked the “staying power” needed to sustain a long-term commitment. Rightfully, many of our African friends viewed us as well-meaning, but unreliable.

I would argue, however, that three factors have providentially come together which cumulatively have the potential to significantly alter the course of the relationship between the United States and the African continent as a whole as well as with its individual sovereign states.

First, in the wake of 9/11, analysts and policymakers have shifted to a more strategic view of Africa in terms of U.S. national interests.

Second, independent of our interests and actions, Africans themselves have increasingly expressed the desire and, more importantly, demonstrated the political will, to tackle the continent’s myriad challenges of disease, poverty, ethnic tension, religious extremism, bad governance, lack of security, etc., although they still need outside assistance.

Third, we have come to recognize a commonality between our strategic interests and the interests of Africans in enhanced security, stability, and development.

Africa: Testimony of Dr. J. Peter Pham - U.S. House Africom Hearing

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Recognizing Our Strategic Interests

Broadly conceived, there are three major areas in which Africa’s significance for America—or at least the public recognition thereof—has been amplified in recent years.

The first is Africa’s role in the “Global War on Terror” and the potential of the poorly governed spaces of the continent to provide facilitating environments, recruits, and eventual targets for Islamist terrorists who threaten Western interests in general and those of the United States in particular—and, in some regions like the Horn of Africa and Sahel, this has already become reality.

The second important consideration is Africa’s abundant natural resources, particularly those in its burgeoning energy sector. The third area of interest remains the humanitarian concern for the devastating toll which conflict, poverty, and disease, especially HIV/AIDS, continue to exact in Africa.

Concerns about Terrorism. There is no denying that U.S. security policy, both currently and for the foreseeable future will be heavily influenced by the “Global War on Terrorism,” the “Long War,” or whatever the designation du jour for the fight against the threat of transnational Islamist terrorism happens to be.

The 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States of America rightly acknowledged that “weak states…can pose as great a danger to our national interests as strong states.

Poverty does not make poor people into terrorists and murderers. Yet poverty, weak institutions, and corruption can make weak states vulnerable to terrorist networks and drug cartels within their borders.”[5]

With the possible exception of the Greater Middle East, nowhere is this analysis truer than Africa where, as the document went on to acknowledge, regional conflicts arising from a variety of causes, including poor governance, external aggression, competing claims, internal revolt, and ethnic and religious tensions all “lead to the same ends: failed states, humanitarian disasters, and ungoverned areas that can become safe havens for terrorists.”[6]

While the terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda on the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, in 1998, and on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, and, simultaneously, on an Israeli commercial airliner in 2002 have underscored the deadly reality of the terrorist threat in Africa, perhaps the most eloquent reminder of the particular vulnerability of the continent to terrorism comes from the terrorists themselves.

In June 2006, a new online magazine for actual and aspiring global jihadis and their supporters, Sada al-Jihad (“Echo of Jihad”), which took the place of Sawt al-Jihad (“Voice of Jihad”) as the publication of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia after Saudi authorities finally came around to shutting down the presses of latter, featured an article by one Abu Azzam al-Ansari entitled “Al-Qaeda is Moving to Africa.”[7] Abu Azzam was remarkably frank:

There is no doubt that al-Qaeda and the holy warriors appreciate the significance of the African regions for the military campaigns against the Crusaders. Many people sense that this continent has not yet found its proper and expected role and the next stages of the conflict will see Africa as the battlefield.

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With a rather commendable analytical rigor surprisingly free from ideological rancor, Abu Azzam then proceeded to enumerate and evaluate what he perceived to be significant advantages to al-Qaeda shifting terrorist operations to Africa, including:

the fact that jihadi doctrines have already been spread within the Muslim communities of many African countries; the political and military weakness of African governments;

the wide availability of weapons; the geographical position of Africa vis-à-vis international trade routs;

the proximity to old conflicts against “Jews and Crusaders” in the Middle East as well as new ones like Darfur, where the author almost gleefully welcomed the possibility of Western intervention;

the poverty of Africa which “will enable the holy warriors to provide some finance and welfare, thus, posting there some of their influential operatives”;

the technical and scientific skills that potential African recruits would bring to the jihadi cause; the presence of large Muslim communities, including ones already embroiled conflict with Christians or adherents of traditional African religions;

the links to Europe through North Africa “which facilitates the move from there to carry out attacks”;

and the fact that Africa has a wealth of natural resources, including hydrocarbons and other raw materials, which are “very useful for the holy warriors in the intermediate and long term.”

Abu Azzam concluded his assessment on an ominous note:

In general, this continent has an immense significance. Whoever looks at Africa can see that it does not enjoy the interest, efforts, and activity it deserves in the war against the Crusaders.

This is a continent with many potential advantages and exploiting this potential will greatly advance the jihad. It will promote achieving the expected targets of Jihad. Africa is a fertile soil for the advance of jihad and the jihadi cause.

It would be a mistake to dismiss Abu Azzam’s analysis as devoid of operational effect.

Shortly before the publication of the article, an Islamist movement whose leaders included a number of figures linked to al-Qaeda, the Islamic Courts Union, seized control of the sometime Somali capital of Mogadishu and subsequently overran most of the former state which—with the exception of the northern Republic of Somaliland where the inhabitants have tried to reassert the sovereignty they possessed before joining Somalia in a disastrous union and have, by and large, succeeded[8]—has been without an effective government since 1991.[9]

While forceful intervention by neighboring Ethiopia in late December 2006 dislodged the Islamists, Somalia’s internationally-recognized but utterly ineffective “Transitional Federal Government” has yet to assert itself in the face of a growing insurgency which has adopted the same non-conventional tactics that foreign jihadis and Sunni Arab insurgents have used to great effect in Iraq.[10]

Considerable evidence has emerged of links between the Somali Islamists and fugitive al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, not least of which was the capture and subsequent transfer last June to the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay of Abdullahi Sudi Arale, who was apparently dispatched from Pakistan to Somalia in September 2006 and who, according to a Pentagon statement, “played a significant role in the reemergence” of the militants after their initial rout.[11]

Africa: Testimony of Dr. J. Peter Pham - U.S. House Africom Hearing

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Another Al-Qaeda “franchise” has sought to reignite conflict in Algeria and spread it to the Sahel, the critical boundary region where Sub-Saharan Africa meets North Africa and where vast empty spaces and highly permeable borders are readily exploitable by local and international militants alike both as a base for recruitment and training and as a conduit for the movement of personnel and materiel.

Last year members of the Algerian Islamist terrorist group Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (usually known by its French acronym GSPC) formally pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda and began identifying themselves in communiqués as “Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb.”

The link to al-Qaeda was confirmed by bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri who, in the “commemorative video” the terrorist network issued on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, declared: “Our mujahid Sheikh and the Lion of Islam, Osama bin Laden,...has instructed me to give the good news to Muslims in general and my mujahid?n brothers everywhere that the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat has joined al-Qaeda organization.”[12]

The Egyptian terrorist hailed the “blessed union” between the GSPC and al-Qaeda, pledging that it would “be a source of chagrin, frustration and sadness for the apostates [of the regime in Algeria], the treacherous sons of [former colonial power] France,” and urging the group to become “a bone in the throat of the American and French crusaders” in the region and beyond.

Last April, al-Qaeda’s new affiliate claimed credit for a pair of bomb blasts—one close to the prime minister's office, the other near a police station—that rocked Algiers, killing two dozen people and wounding more than a hundred, shattering the calm that the Algerian capital had enjoyed since the conclusion of the civil war of the 1990s which claimed at least 150,000 lives.[13]

Perhaps most menacing over the long term, however, is an increasingly apparent willingness on the part of transnational Islamist terror networks to not only exploit the grievances which might be nursed by some African Muslim communities, but also to reach out to non-Muslim militants to make common cause against their mutual enemies.

While there is no shortage of violent non-Muslim groups in Sub-Saharan Africa, the region has long been plagued by a number of indigenous Islamist groups like the Eritrean Islamic Jihad, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in Ethiopia, and the Allied Democratic Forces/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF/NALU).[14]

More recently, evidence has emerged that outside forces have been providing these groups with strategic guidance, tactical assistance, and operational planning.

For example, the ONLF has been battling successive Ethiopian governments for years with the goal of splitting the ethnic Somali region from the country. However, it was only within the last year that the group acquired from somewhere the wherewithal to mount the most spectacular attack within Ethiopia since the fall of the Derg dictatorship in 1991.[15]

In addition to shelter, recruits, and opportunities to terrorists, terrorist groups have also profited from the weak governance capacities of African states not only to raise money by soliciting sympathizers, but also to trade in gemstones and other natural resources either as a means to launder and make money as al-Qaeda did with Sierra Leonean “conflict diamonds” through the good offices of then Liberian president Charles Taylor.

Former Washington Post correspondent Douglas Farah, for example, has reported on how al-Qaeda procured somewhere between $30 million and $50 millions worth of diamonds through this channel in the month before the September 11 attacks, while I have documented how documented how Hezbollah has used the extensive Lebanese Sh?‘a communities in places like Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea to make money in an illicit market estimated by the United Nations to worth between $170 million and $370 million.[16]

Energy and Maritime Security. In his 2006 State of the Union address, President Bush called for the United States to “replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025” and to “make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.”[17] According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, America has already advanced significantly in its effort to wean itself from dependency on hydrocarbons originating in the volatile Persian Gulf, thanks in large measure to the abundant energy resources of Africa.

This past March, Nigeria edged past Saudi Arabia to become America’s third largest supplier, delivering 41,717,000 barrels of oil that month compared to the desert kingdom’s 38,557,000.

When one adds Angola’s 22,542,000 barrels to the former figure, the two African states alone now supply more of America’s energy needs than Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates combined.[18]

This milestone is all the more remarkable when one considers that the campaign of bombings and kidnappings carried out over the course of the last two years by the relatively small Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a militant group fighting the Nigerian government over the oil-rich Delta region’s underdevelopment, environmental degradation, and political marginalization, has had the cumulative affect of cutting Nigeria's total oil production by almost one-third.[19]

This natural wealth makes Africa an inviting target for the attentions of the People’s Republic of China, whose dynamic economy, averaging 9 percent growth per annum over the last two decades, has an almost insatiable thirst for oil as well as a need for other natural resources to sustain it. China is currently importing approximately 2.6 million barrels of crude per day, about half of its consumption; more than 765,000 of those barrels—roughly a third of its imports—come from African sources, especially Sudan, Angola, and Congo (Brazzaville).

Is it any wonder, then, that apart from the Central Eurasian region on its own northwestern frontier, perhaps no other foreign region rivals Africa as the object of Beijing’s sustained strategic interest in recent years.

Last year the Chinese regime published the first ever official white paper elaborating the bases of its policy toward Africa.

This year, ahead of his twelve-day, eight-nation tour of Africa—the third such journey since he took office in 2003—Chinese President Hu Jintao announced a three-year, $3 billion program in preferential loans and expanded aid for Africa.

These funds come on top of the $3 billion in loans and $2 billion in export credits that Hu announced in October 2006 at the opening of the historic Beijing summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) which brought nearly fifty African heads of state and ministers to the Chinese capital.

Intentionally or not, many analysts expect that Africa—especially the states along its oil-rich western coastline—will increasingly becoming a theatre for strategic competition between the United States and its only real near-peer competitor on the global stage, China, as both countries seek to expand their influence and secure access to resources.[20]

In connection with this, an additional security worry is China’s increasing arms exports to Africa, especially as weapons are flowing to despotic regimes and fueling simmering conflicts even as they diminish further what little leverage Western governments and international organization—to say nothing of African ones—have with recalcitrant regimes.[21]

Africa: Testimony of Dr. J. Peter Pham - U.S. House Africom Hearing

(Page 4 of 17)
Yet for all its global importance as well as strategic significance for U.S. national interests, Africa’s waters—especially the Gulf of Guinea, the Gulf of Aden and other waters off Somalia, and the “Swahili Coast” of East Africa—seen comparatively few resources poured into maritime security, a deficit which only worsens when one considers the scale of the area in question and the magnitude of the challenges faced.

Depending on how one chooses to define the Gulf of Guinea region, the nearly 3,500 miles of coastline running in an arc from West Africa to Angola, for example, are highly susceptible to piracy, criminal enterprises, and poaching—in addition to the security challenge presented by the oil production facilities, both onshore and offshore, and the transport of the natural resources thus derived.[22]

The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships Report covering the first quarter of 2007, for instance, noted that while the number of reported attacks declined significantly compared to just one year before, the figure for incidents off the coast of Nigeria doubled.[23]

At the same time, the Gulf of Guinea’s oil-producing states have long been a plagued by “illegal bunkering,” the tapping of pipelines for oil which is eventually loaded on to tankers which sell the crude to refineries elsewhere at a considerable profit. This highly-organized and far-reaching activity—at one point, two Nigerian admirals were court-martialed for their involvement in one infamous 2004 incident involving the disappearance of a tanker with 11,000 barrels of oil—has grown increasingly deadly as energy prices surge upwards and the criminal syndicates involved have acquired ever more sophisticated arms.

There is also an increasing drug trade through the subregion: Nigeria is the transshipment point for approximately one-third of the heroin seized by authorities in the United States and more than half of the cocaine seized by South African officials, while European law enforcement officials report that poorly-scrutinized West Africa has become the major conduit for drugs shipped to their countries by Latin American cartels.[24]

In addition to their vast hydrocarbon reserves, the waters of the Gulf of Guinea contain some of the richest fisheries in the world. Yet, according to a 2005 report commissioned by the British Department for International Development (DFID) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), illegal, unreported, or unlicensed (IUU) fishing—often by large foreign commercial trawlers—cost countries in the Gulf of Guinea more than $375 million annually.

In addition to the obvious economic impact of the loss of the value of the catches to the countries affected, IUU fishing also carries indirect costs in terms of losses to industries upstream and downstream from fishing itself—to say nothing of damage to the ecosystem.[25]

In response to these challenges, the United States 2005 National Strategy for Maritime Security declared that:

Assisting regional partners to maintain the maritime sovereignty of their territorial seas and internal waters is a longstanding objective of the United States and contributes directly to the partners’ economic development as well as their ability to combat unlawful or hostile exploitation by a variety of threats.

For example, as a result of our active discussions with African partners, the United States is now appropriating funding for the implementation of border and coastal security initiatives along the lines of the former Africa Coastal Security (ACS) Program.

Preventing unlawful or hostile exploitation of the maritime domain requires that nations collectively improve their capability to monitor activity throughout the domain, establish responsive decision-making architectures, enhance maritime interdiction capacity, develop effective policing protocols, and build intergovernmental cooperation. The United States, in cooperation with its allies, will lead an international effort to improve monitoring and enforcement capabilities through enhanced cooperation at the bilateral, regional, and global level.[26]

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Humanitarian Challenges. While concern over terrorism and other potential security threats as well as the growing importance of Africa’s hydrocarbon and other natural resources has refocused America’s perspective on the continent in recent years, the humanitarian impulses that motivated policy for so long have not been lost. If anything, they have acquired a new importance as the United States reassesses and reconfigures its strategic engagement with Africa. Consider the following data points:

? Africa boasts the world’s fastest rate of population growth: by 2020, today’s more than 900 million Africans will number more than 1.2 billion—more than the combined populations of Europe and North America. Nor do these absolute numbers tell the whole story: by then, the median age of Europeans will be 45, while nearly half of the African population will be under the age of 15.

? The dynamic potential implicit in the demographic figures just cited is, however, constrained, by the economic and epidemiological data. The United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Report 2006 determined that of the thirty-one countries found to have “low development,” twenty-nine were African states—more than half of the membership of the African Union.[27] While Sub-Saharan Africa is home to only 10 percent of the world’s population, nearly two-thirds of the people infected with HIV—24.7 million—are Sub-Saharan Africans, with an estimated 2.8 million becoming infected in 2006, more than any other region in the world.[28]

Africa: Testimony of Dr. J. Peter Pham - U.S. House Africom Hearing

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Thus while the 2003 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism correctly argued that terrorist organizations have little in common with the poor and destitute, it also acknowledged that terrorists can exploit these socio-economic conditions to their advantage. President Bush noted in his 2005 address on the occasion of the United Nations’ sixtieth anniversary:

We must defeat the terrorists on the battlefield, and we must also defeat them in the battle of ideas. We must change the conditions that allow terrorists to flourish and recruit, by spreading the hope of freedom to millions who’ve never known it.

We must help raise up the failing states and stagnant societies that provide fertile ground for the terrorists. We must defend and extend a vision of human dignity, and opportunity, and prosperity—a vision far stronger than the dark appeal of resentment and murder. To spread a vision of hope, the United States is determined to help nations that are struggling with poverty.[29]

The administration, working with Congress, has consolidated the comprehensive trade and investment policy for Africa introduced by its predecessor in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of 2000, which substantially lowered commercial barriers with the United States and allowed Sub-Saharan African countries to qualify for trade benefits. It has also made combating HIV/AIDS on the continent a priority with twelve of the fifteen focus countries in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) being in Africa.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), established in 2004, promotes and supports innovative foreign aid strategies which benefit states that qualify under objective benchmarks for assistance from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), a program which provides assistance for “compact agreements” to fund specific programs targeted at reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth as well as “threshold programs” to improve performance with an eye toward achieving “compact” status. Of the forty-one countries worldwide currently eligible for some MCA funding, either through the “Threshold Program” or “Compact Assistance,” twenty are in Africa.[30]

One of the key advantages of the MCC approach is the recognition that generous grants of development aid are for naught if the recipients lacked a democratic polity and basic capacity for good governance. It should be recalled that until the 1990s, African states which had largely been characterized by various genre of authoritarian rule.

Until then, only two, Botswana and Mauritius, had a record of remaining democratic continuously since gaining their independence. During the same period, only one African leader, Aden Abdulle Osman of Somalia (1967), had ever peacefully relinquished his office following electoral defeat and only three had retired voluntarily: Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal (1980), Ahmadou Ahidjo of Cameroon (1982), and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania (1985)—and Ahidjo, apparently underwent a change of heart and subsequently tried (unsuccessfully) to shoot his way back into office a year later.[31]

A decade later, virtually all sub-Saharan African states had at least tentatively opened their political systems to some form of competition and while shenanigans are still common—witness the poor organization and massive fraud in this year’s Nigerian presidential election which was widely criticized by local as well as American and European observers[32]—one-party autocracies like Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe are now the exception rather than the rule.[33]

Part of the reason for this progress is the recognition by both Africans and international donors like the United States that, as Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has argued, “Developing and strengthening a democratic system is an essential component of the process of development.”[34]

Acknowledging Increased African Leadership

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Arms and Military Affairs
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One of the most heartening developments in recent years has been the growing trend of Africans stepping up to provide leadership in addressing their continent’s problems, recognizing that they cannot afford to wait for the rest of world to rouse itself to respond to these pressing crises.

Despite some painfully obvious failures—the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe and the overall unwillingness or inability to confront President Robert Mugabe being perhaps the most blatant example—it would be churlish not to acknowledge the significant growth in indigenous capacity in conflict resolution and governance assurance at the national, subregional, and pan-African levels.

Nation-Building. News from the African continent which—when it is covered at all in Western media—often comes across as an endless cycle of material poverty and disease, resource competition, environmental degradation, civil conflict, religious fanaticism, and, in recent years, Islamist terrorism. Consequently it is refreshing to be able to report such signs of progress as emerge, often without—or even despite—outside intervention.

One such case is the peace agreement signed in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on March 4, 2007, by President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d’Ivoire and Guillaume Soro, Secretary-General of the “Forces Nouvelles” (FN) rebels who had seized control of the northern part of the country followed a failed coup attempt nearly five years ago. While peace accords in African civil conflicts have a notoriously short shelf life, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the Ouagadougou accord—and, should it hold, to derive some lessons from this experience applicable to other African conflicts.[35]

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