August 15, 2022

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Anthony Blingen in Africa to turn the page on the Trump years

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On November 19, 2021, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken boarded a plane for Tucker at Namdi Ashikive Airport in Abuja, Nigeria.

Obviously, all relationships seem simple when you are not subject to insults and irritation instead of looking at yourself. Stool country », Your partner, the world’s leading force in this matter, qualifies you “Strategic Partner”. For his first trip to the African continent, which concluded on Saturday, November 20, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was deliberately subdued in tone and humble about his country’s capabilities, after Donald Trump’s excessive and overt insults. .

“Often, African countries are considered inferior partners or worse than the same rankings,” he said. In the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the head of US diplomacy said on Friday after a specific “Dictatorship rises around the world” And recognized it [s]Our country is fighting against threats [les] Democracies. Solutions to these threats will come from Africa, as elsewhere. ”

The powerlessness of facing democratic setbacks

This is not a policy, but the purpose of the trip, which took him from Tuesday to Kenya, Nigeria and then to Senegal, was to renew the idea of ​​cooperation between Washington and the African continent. “It’s a deep desire to convince Africans to think about their problems, identify solutions to them and put in resources, because the United States can not do that.”, Mamadou Diouf, Columbia University Professor of History and African Studies warns.

The tour, scheduled for August, was finally postponed due to the capture of Kabul by the Taliban. Africa is far from the White House emergency. Since coming to power, Joe Biden has not yet defined the orientation of his policy on the continent, but his National Security Council is expected to do so in the coming months.

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Also read the editorial: Destroying democracies around the world: Resisting the waves of dictatorship

Meanwhile, American diplomacy seems to have been pushed from one emergency to another, powerless in the face of democratic setbacks, characterized by successive coups in Africa – four a year, “The highest number in four decades “- and “Leaders ignore tenure limits, fraud and postpone elections, use social tensions to gain or prolong power, arrest opposition figures …”, As Mr. Blingen lamented.

Focus on regionally influential allies

In the context of intense competition with China, the Foreign Secretary sought to reduce the ready-made formulas (“We do not want you to choose. We want to give you options.”), Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal are three levels of choice that can be read as expressing Washington’s intentions in Africa: betting on regional and continental organizations and allies considered to be poles of influence. The weight of US diplomacy has been brutally exposed recently and in the two countries where they have invested heavily.

In Sudan, in October, just hours after the departure of General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Borhan, the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, thought he had ended his mediation to overthrow the civilian government. The repression in Khartoum was the deadliest of the 15 protesters killed on Wednesday, especially in the case of Sudan, where Mr. It was only when Blinken was there that this thing seemed to advance.

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“The United States shot itself in the head by pushing the Sudanese government, which was very fragile and agreed to deliver. [l’ex-président] Omar al-Bashir at the International Criminal Court. Inevitably, generals al-Borhan and “Hemeti” [Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, ex-vice-président] Consider yourself next on the list “, Paul-Simon Handy, post-analysis of the Institute for Security Studies, a think tank based in South Africa. The researcher criticizes the US approach to trying to find a negotiated solution to the war in Ethiopia. “They are an influential player in this crisis, but, even there, they have no subtlety in showing their sympathy for the Tigrian rebels.” he said.

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So relays are needed for performance and not to be directly involved. With the exception of Sudan and Ethiopia, Kenya is a key player for the whole of Africa. If Nigeria loses its strategic interest in the United States because it does not depend on energy from crude oil from the Niger Delta, it remains the main economic hub of the continent. Finally, in Senegal, an even weaker democratic model, the head of state, Maggie Soul, will be the head of the African Union for 2022.

“Play smart”

The Secretary of State’s speech in Abuja provided only a few general lines on what US policy should be in Africa in the years to come. This law on AGOA’s Future, Growth and African Opportunities allows continental countries to export their products to the U.S. market without tariffs, which expire in 2025.

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A Note to Center for Strategic and International Studies, A Washington think tank, published in June and dedicated to the Sahel and the coastal countries of West Africa, however, can serve as a benchmark. On the topic of “bad choices”, it judges “In order to advance its strategic interests, the United States must play better.” When he returns to the National Security Council, which was already a member under the Obama administration, its editor, Judd Devermond, hopes to combat violent extremism and mitigate democratic setbacks. “Adverse Impact” China and Russia, Washington to do “Increase investment in the judiciary and strengthen the fight against corruption, especially in the mining and energy sectors, and accountability in the defense sector”.

It continues, the former CIA executive, “Investing in traditional counter-terrorism programs and democratic institutions will involve significant deviations from the security-centric policies that have had minimal success in Sahel over the past two decades.” Joe Biden may be the subject of a debate on the “Summit for Democracy” to be held in December, and many of his African colleagues will be invited or the White House would like to hold later with African leaders. Mr. As announced by Blinken, a kind of response will take place between China and the countries of the continent in Docker at the end of November.

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