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Table of Contents

Why African Homophobia is Still the Real Western Import

(1 May 2024)

Blinken's Trip to Africa:  America's Impotence in the Post-Hegemonic World

(4 February 2024)

The Minerva Research Initiative:

The Military-University-Industry Complex Targets Africa

(15 January 2024)

Biden Responds to the Collapse of US Counterterrorism Strategy in Niger 

(2 January 2024) 

Collapse of US Counterterrorism Strategy in the Sahel (13 October 2023)

U.S. Defense Austin's Trip to Africa:  Can the U.S. Military Hold the Line in Africa?

(4 October 2023)

U.S. Military Commander Reveals African Secrets (1 April 2023)

Biden's FY 2024 Budget Plan for Africa:  Send More Guns (1 April 2023)

Table One: Country Data: FY 2022 Security Assistance Actual Spending, FY 2023 Request, and FY 2024 Request

Nigeria:  Biden Faces Nigeria Crisis (10 March 2023)

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Why African Homophobia is Still the Real Western Import

By Daniel Volman*

 

*Daniel Volman is the Director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC (www.africansecurity.org) and a specialist on US national security policy toward Africa and African security issues.

African political leaders and religious zealots (both Christian and Muslim) have used homophobia as a tool for political and religious power for many years.  They say that same-sex relations and gay rights are imports from the west.  They have used homophobia to portray themselves as nationalists and defenders of African and religious values.  They have used homophobia to frighten and divide people to mobilize popular support and votes. 

But it is homophobia, as others have said before me, that is the real import from the west (Evaristo, 2014).  And the whole panoply of weapons employed by the homophobes in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa are themselves colonial imports, ranging from sodomy laws that were a legacy of colonial rule to the parliaments that pass these laws. 

 

And yet homophobia is growing stronger in Africa.  In mid-March of 2023, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was quoted by the Monitor newspaper website (Monitor reporter, 2023, McCool, 2023, and Africanew, 2023) as saying “The Western countries should stop wasting the time of humanity by imposing their social practices on us.”  And Kenyan President William Ruto declared (Musambi, 2023 and Cyuzuzo, 2023) at the same time that “our culture and religion does not allow same-sex marriages.”

The use of homophobia as a political and religious tool in the United States goes back at least as far as the “Lavender Scare” in the 1950s, which drove hundreds of people out of government service, and Anita Bryant’s campaign against gay rights in the late-1970s. Right-wing evangelicals and their allies in the Republican Party have campaigned for more anti-gay and anti-free speech legislation in recent years.  And they have sought to export their politics abroad, primarily through their promotion and funding of political activities by evangelical Christian groups.

 

Public attitudes and the law have changed in the US, however, and it is the current policy of the Biden administration to promote respect for LGBTQI+ persons and for human rights.  On 3 March 2023, while the Ugandan parliament was debating a new Anti-Homosexuality Act, US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman said (Lavers, 2023) that “Every country has to make their own decisions about LGBTQ rights,” while speaking to reporters in Kenya’s Kajiado County.  “In the United States we probably have a different position, which is that we view LGBTQ rights as human rights, but we respect every country’s point of view on what position they want to take on this and we will respect that, but of course our democratic values and the way that we feel is different and that’s okay.”  

A State Department spokesperson on Monday, 14 March 2023, declared, in a statement to the Washington Blade (Lavers, 2023), that “a person’s ability to exercise their rights should never be limited based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics,” and, said the spokesperson, “governments should protect and promote respect for human rights for each and every human being, without discrimination, and they should abide by their human rights obligations and commitments.”

On that same day, 14 March 2023, Ambassador Whitman tweeted (Lavers, 2023) that “over the past week my team and I met with the LGBTQI+ community and stakeholders to support human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.  The US proudly advances efforts to protect LGBTQI+ persons from discrimination and violence and will continue to stand up for human rights and equality.”

And, on 22 March 2023, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the White House was watching the situation in Uganda “closely” and determining what the US’s next steps should be (Bowden, 2023).  “We’re certainly watching this really closely and we would have to take a look at whether or not there might be repercussions that we would have to take, perhaps in an economic way, should this law actually get passed and enacted.”

She also said (Bowden, 2023) “If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, deter tourism and [investment] in Uganda, and damage Uganda’s international reputation.”

And yet, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was passed by the Ugandan parliament on 21 March 2023.

On 2 April 2023, Museveni called (McCool, 2023) upon African leaders to reject “the promotion of homosexuality” and said homosexuality was “a big threat and danger to the procreation of human race.”  He said “Africa should provide the lead to save the world from this degeneration and decadence, which is really very dangerous for humanity.  If people of opposite sex stop appreciating one another then how will the human race be propagated.”

He was speaking following a two-day inter-parliamentary conference held at State House in Entebbe, which was hosted by the Ugandan parliament, the African Bar Association, and the Nigerian-based Foundation for African Cultural Heritage.  Delegates could also attend the conference online, hosted by the US evangelical Christian organization Family Watch International, defined as hate group by SPLC.  The President of Family Watch, Sharon Slater, who also chairs the UN Family Rights Caucus Lobby group, spoke at the event.

On 20 April 2023, Museveni congratulated lawmakers for having “rejected the pressure from the imperialists,” in a statement (Reuters, 2023a) issued by his office.  An amended version of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, providing for the use of conversion therapy to “rehabilitate” LGBTQI+ people, was passed on 2 May 2023 and sent to Museveni for his signature.  Celebrating the act, parliamentary speaker Anita Among said (Althumani, 2023 and Reuters, 2023b) “The Western world will not come and rule Uganda.”

In a statement issued on 29 March 2023 (Biden, 2023a), President Biden called the newly-passed law “shameful” and suggested it could impact US-Uganda relations.  “I have directed my National Security Council to evaluate the implications of this law on all aspects of US engagement with Uganda, including our ability to safely deliver services under the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other forms of assistance and investments.”
 
On 16 June 2023, the State Department announced (Miller, 2023 and Reuters, 2023c) that the US has imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan officials after the passage of the AHA bill.  The statement did not mention any names or even the number of officials, but said that the US would hold accountable those who are responsible for abusing human rights in Uganda, “including those of LGBTQI+ persons.”  And on 30 October 2023, President Biden announced (Biden, 2023b) that Uganda would be suspended from participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which grants African countries duty-free access to the American market for more than 1,800 products (including coffee and textiles from Uganda), due to “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” by the government.

In fact, right-wing Christian groups in the United States have long influenced or supported anti-LGBTQ policies and attitudes in Uganda, particularly via evangelical groups like the Fellowship Foundation, which participated in drafting the 2009 “kill the gays” bill, according to a 2020 report from Open Democracy.  In 2012, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) sued American evangelist Scott Lively in a US court for his role in promoting the anti-LGBTQ propaganda that supported the “kill the gays” bill and led to the persecution of LGBTQ people in Uganda.  Though the court eventually dismissed the case, ruling that it could not be tried in the US because the alleged crimes took place elsewhere, the presiding judge, Michael Ponsor, affirmed (Khatondi, 2023b and Khantondi, 2023c) that Lively contributed to “a vicious and frightening campaign of repression against LGBTQI people in Uganda.”

And one major US lobbying group has faced persistent accusations of spreading anti-LGBTQ propaganda in several African countries. CNN (McKenzie and Dean, 2023) investigated whether the Arizona-based organization Family Watch International, and its founder Sharon Slater, have helped promote homophobic legislation in Uganda, Kenya and Ghana. The group has repeatedly denied these allegations.

Family Watch International says that its mission is to “protect and promote the family as the fundamental unit of society.” It is opposed to teaching young people about LGBTQ issues, sexual health, and other areas it regards as a threat to the “natural family,” and it engages in lobbying at the United Nations, across the US and in other countries.  Ms. Slater has addressed or convened multiple “family values” conferences across the African continent – both in person and remotely.

Policy advocacy by American conservative groups in Africa is not a new phenomenon.  CNN has previously reported that the World Congress of Families, a right-wing US group, may have played a role in a crackdown on Ghana’s LGBTQ community, including by promoting some of the harshest bills on the continent. At the time, their leader said they had no influence on the Ghanaian bill.

In 2013, Nigeria passed a bill criminalizing same-sex relationships, which contained penalties of up to 14 years in prison. A year later, Uganda’s president signed into law an earlier version of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was subsequently struck down by a Ugandan court on procedural grounds.

Ghana’s parliament is now considering one of the harshest pieces of legislation, known as the Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill, after its Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge in July.

“The laws are very organized in their planning and the political mobilization of the population to support the cause. The passing of the law is just the tail end of that very meticulous process,” says Nicholas Opiyo, a leading Ugandan human rights advocate.

Perhaps the most symbolic illustration of Family Watch International’s influence came from a conference in Entebbe, Uganda, in April 2023.  In one photo from the conference, Family Watch International staff and co-founder Slater stands in a small group photo with the Ugandan president.

The conference took place just weeks before Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Museveni and the First Lady publicly praised the work of Slater and her organization.  Family Watch International says those meetings were impromptu and that it was not in charge of the conference in Entebbe.  But a source directly involved in the event said that Slater and Family Watch International were, in fact, vital in the planning of the Entebbe conference, even suggesting a name change to avoid “significant backlash.”

And while Family Watch International says it was not involved in any way in the law, the same source said the group has assisted members of parliament in pushing the legislation and helped shape its wording.  “Family Watch International staff made repeated changes to the draft,” the source said, even suggesting clauses that should be added to the text.  CNN tracked Slater to a conference at the UN headquarters in New York in November. The Family Watch International co-founder said that the allegations are “absurd.”

“I have documents I can show you later that I have not been involved in any of those laws, period, it’s just absurd,” she said. Asked to show the documents, a Family Watch International representative later shared a deeply homophobic text with CNN from President Yoweri Museveni’s office.  It says Museveni endorses Slater’s work and that she played no part in “originating, canvassing, or supporting” the law. Instead, it says she suggested a “safe haven” for “homosexuals.” The final Ugandan law signed by Museveni allows for the “rehabilitation of offenders,” including the use of conversion therapy.

Family Watch International has repeatedly insisted that it is against the death penalty and imprisonment of members of the LGBTQ community and does not support the law, but a youth leader with close links to the organization in Kenya told a different story.

Tobias Nauruki, a representative of the Empowered Youth Coalition, had just returned from the same meetings at the UN, where he posted photographs of the UN buildings and group pictures with leading anti-LGBTQ members of parliament.  Family Watch International said that Nauruki is “not authorized to speak” for them.

“I’m happy for the laws being pushed. One, they are going to protect me as a person, Tobias, and the generations I’m looking forward to have in the near future,” he said. “The maintenance protection and promoting the family values is very important to maintain the traditions that have been there.”

Nauruki said that LGBTQ people should be imprisoned if they break the laws but be given the opportunity to convert. He added that the instances of harassment and abuse of LGBTQ people cited by human rights groups are “minor.”

According (Khatondi, 2023a) to Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, one of only two Ugandan MPs who voted against the AHA, “leading up to the first Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2014, we knew that radical Pentecostal communities from the US were sponsoring the introduction of anti-LGBTIQ laws throughout Africa. There are still a few US pastors – I call them hate-mongers because that's all they excel in, vending hatred in Uganda.”

“Their initial point of entry was the [Ugandan] National Prayer Breakfast, a collection of religious and radical people here who introduced that ideology of hate. They sit over breakfast and pray and make radical hate speeches. They also introduced some money. They hold fellowships in expensive hotels, attended by MPs. They also sponsor trips for MPs – to Jerusalem, for example – and basically indoctrinate them.”

“That was the cycle we had from 2011 to around 2016. They were successful in introducing the anti-homosexuality law to Parliament and having it passed; we were successful in having it struck down. We also had lengthy discussions with the LGBTIQ community here, and advised them to file lawsuits against those fellows back in the US. It scared away a number of them.”

“Last year I was told that those Pentecostal communities spent well over $26m in East Africa to – again – promote this anti-homosexuality law. We tried to fight it politically. At one point, we were convinced we had won the battle until it hit us this month. They have never gone to sleep. Also, we lowered our guards and were not very aggressively following the money.”

Despite the negative publicity the law has provoked, Representative Tim Walberg (R-Michigan) urged (Bollinger, 2024 and Migdon, 2023) attendees of the Uganda National Prayer Breakfast, including Museveni, Bahati, and others, to resist pressure to repeal it.  “Though the rest of the world is pushing back on you . . . though there are other major countries that are trying to get into you and ultimately change you, stand firm,” Walberg said, as first reported by the Take Care, Tim blog in October.

Walberg quoted Biblical parables and used them to encourage Ugandans to shrug off international condemnation of the law.  “Worthless is the thought of the world…. [W]orthless, for instance, is the thought of the World Bank, or the World Health Organization, or the United Nations, or, sadly, some in our administration in America who say, ‘You are wrong for standing for values that God created,’ for saying there are male and female and God created them.'”

“Whose side do we want to be on? God’s side,” Walberg added. “Not the World Bank, not the United States of America, necessarily, not the U.N. God’s side.”  He also urged Ugandan leaders to stand by Museveni. “He knows that he has a Parliament, and…even congressmen like me who will say, ‘We stand with you.'”

Museveni cited Walberg’s attendance and his remarks as evidence that many conservatives in the West support laws against homosexuality in the name of religion and support Uganda and other nations’ efforts to legislate against it.  “There are others, also, who come to tell you about homosexuals, about abortion. You now know that there are other Americans, other Western people, who think like us,” he said.

Bahati praised Walberg, recounting a conversation with the congressman about whether he was comfortable braving potential backlash or criticism for traveling to Uganda and expressing support for the law. He said Walberg told him, “Don’t worry, we are on the right side of God.”

According to the “Take Care, Tim” blog (TYT), a congressional travel filing from Walberg revealed that it was paid for by the Fellowship Foundation, or the “International Foundation,” known more colloquially as “The Family,” which organizes the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast, and has long advocated for anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion policies, both domestically and abroad.  Walberg’s speech marks the first time any American lawmaker has publicly embraced Uganda’s attempts to further criminalize homosexuality.

Other right-wing US groups also supported the AHA, including Family Watch International, an SPLC-designated hate group based in Arizona.  Family Watch International’s President Sharon Slater has a close relationship with Museveni’s wife, Janet Museveni, as well as with Ugandan MP Martin Ssempa, one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the kill the gays law.

“I recently had the honor of meeting with Ms. Sharon Slater, President of Family Watch International, and her team,” Janet Museveni tweeted last year.  “They attended the first African Regional Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Uganda, focusing on global challenges that threaten African families and values.”

Nicolas Opiyo, a Ugandan human rights lawyer and campaigner, told (McCool, 2023) the Guardian that “The wave of homophobia and transphobia in Uganda, and the region, has nothing to do with Ugandan or African values.  It is a disguised campaign by American evangelicals through their local actors.  Their campaigns have now been organized under what appears to be local professional entities such as Christian lawyers’ groups, parliamentary forums and so forth.  Their claim about African family values is only a ‘dog whistle’, a hate campaign and an imposition of a narrow Christian worldview upon us all.”

Robert Akoto Amoafo, a Ghanaian human rights advocate, told (Dini-Osman, 2023) the World on 11 April 2023, “In Uganda, in Ghana, in Kenya, in Mali and in Niger, it’s only politicians that are making these statements.  And, of course, politicians who see this as an opportunity to make more numbers for their votes,” referring to Ghana’s upcoming 2024 elections.

Many of the American evangelists who came to Uganda in the 1990s still live there, Stella Nyanzi told (Tschierse and Eisele, 2023) Deutsch Welle.  “We have a number of churches where the senior pastor is an American.  Pastor Martin Ssempa, one of the most vocal homophobes and one of the biggest mobilizers of the anti-gay movement is married to an American.”

It would be simplistic to explain everything as the result of external actors, says Barbara Bompani (Bompani, 2023) in a 26 October 2023 article in the Review of African Political Economy entitled “’God-fearing nations’—understanding the rise of homophobia and homophobic legislation in East Africa and beyond.”  And she is quite correct to insist on the primacy of internal factors and actors.  But American right-wing evangelical Christians clearly play a key role in mobilizing, organizing, supporting, and funding homophobic groups and individuals in Africa.  This has already caused enormous damage in a number of African countries.  And all the signs point in the direction of greater legal persecution and violence against LGBTQI+ people in Africa.

On 29 December 2023, Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye said (Cyuzuzo, 2023) at an event in the country’s eastern Cankuzo Province, where he answered questions from journalists and members of the public, that powerful nations “should keep” their aid if it comes with an obligation to give rights to LGBTQ persons.  “For me, I think that if we find these people in Burundi they should be taken to stadiums and stoned, and doing so would not be a crime.”  On 6 January 2024, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller issued a statement (White House, 2024 and Reuters, 2024a) saying that “the United States is deeply troubled by President Ndayishimiye’s remarks targeting certain vulnerable and marginalized Burundians.”

In Ghana, (Ansari, 2024 and Reuters, 2024b) parliamentarians have been debating the Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values bill since August 2021.  Same-sex relations are already punishment by up to three years in jail under current law, but this new bill will introduce punishment for even identifying as LGBTQ+.  It will also criminalize being transgender and includes jail sentences of up to 10 years for advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.  It is now moving through the Ghanaian parliament.

John Dramani Mahama, the former president of Ghana and leading presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress, said (Reuters, 2024b) during a meeting with members of the clergy in eastern Ghana that gay marriage and being transgender were against his Christian beliefs.  “The faith I have will not allow me to accept a man marrying a man, and a woman marrying a woman,” Mahama said while responding to a church leader’s call against LBGTQ+ people.  “I don’t believe that anyone can get up and say I feel like a man although I was born a woman and so I will change and become a man,” he added.  Mahama did not say whether or not he would sign the anti-LGBTQI+ bill should he win the presidential election in December 2024.

In Kenya,(Ansari, 2024 and Mersie and Hlatshwayo, 2023) opposition parliamentarian Peter Kaluma introduced the Family Protection Bill.  The draft of the bill, which was seen by Reuters, mirrors many aspects of the Ugandan law and would punish gay sex with prison for up to ten years or even death in some cases.  The new bill is “cut from the same cloth” as the Ugandan legislation, said (Ansari, 2024) Kevin Muiruri, a Nairobi-based lawyer.  The bill is now being vetted by a parliamentary committee, which can then refer it to the full chamber for a vote.  And Kenyan President William Ruto, an evangelical Christian, has already endorsed the legal repression of LGBTQI+ rights.  “We cannot travel down the road of women marrying their fellow women and men marrying their fellow men,” he declared (Mersie and Hlastshwayo, 2023) in March 2023.

African homophobes say they are standing up to the west and saving the continent, but they are just serving their own interests and the interests of right-wing Christian nationalists in the west.  Gay communities in Africa and the west share a common interest in fighting back and civil society groups are increasingly active.  The suspension of Uganda from AGOA is a good first step, but we need to press for further action.  As Eric Gilari, an LGBTQI+ activist in Kenya said (Sands and Ombuor, 2023) “one day we shall defeat these assaults on our human rights and triumph in equality and inclusion for LGBTQ persons within African countries.  This ideal must be our guiding light in this moment of darkness and tears.”

 

 

NOTES:


Africanew reporter, 2023, “Uganda:  Museveni calls gay people ‘deviants’ as anti-LGBT bill advances,” Africanews, 16 March 2023.

Ansari, S. 2024, “How new anti-LGBTQ+ bills in Africa expand crackdown on rights,” Openly News, 29 January 2024.

Athumani, H. 2023, “Ugandan Parliament Passes Harsh Anti-LGBTQ Bill,” Voice of America, 2 May 2023.

Biden, J. 2023a, “Statement from President Joe Biden on the Enactment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act,” 29 May 2023.

Biden, J. 2023b, “Letters to the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate on Intent to Terminate the Designation of the Central African Republic, the Gabonese Republic, Niger, and the Republic of Uganda as Beneficiary Sub-Saharan African Countries Under the African Growth and Opportunity Act,” 30 October 2023.

Bollinger, A. 2024, “GOP lawmaker told Uganda to ‘stand firm’ on its ‘Kill the Gays’ bill,” LGBTQ Nation, 11 January 2024.

Bompani, B. 2023, “’God-fearing nations’ – understanding the rise of homophobia and homophobic legislations in East Africa and beyond,” Review of African Political Economy, 26 October 2023.

Bowden, J. 2023, “White House says sanctions against Uganda possible over anti-gay law,” Independent, 22 March 2023.

Cyuzuzo, S. 2023, “Burundi's President Ndayishimiye hits out over gay rights and aid,” BBC, 29 December 2023.

Dini-Osman, R. K. 2023, “Uganda's LGBTQ crackdown could have a ripple effect in Ghana and other African countries,” The World, 11 April 2023.

Evaristo, B. 2014, The idea that African homosexuality was a colonial import is a myth,” Bernardine Evaristo, Guardian, 8 March 2014.

Khatondi S. W. 2023a, “Christian fundamentalism lies behind harsh new anti-LGBTIQ bill in Uganda,” Open Democracy, 23 March 2023.

Khatondi S. W. 2023b, “Queer Ugandans reveal devastating impact of anti-gay law,” Open Democracy, 4 July 2023.

Khatondi S. W. 2023c, “The West harms queer Africans by failing to hold its own people accountable,” Open Democracy, 27 July 2023.

Lavers, M. 2023, “U.S. ambassador to Kenya: Every country must make ‘own decisions’ about LGBTQ rights,” Washington Blade,14 March 2023.

McCool, A. 2023, “Ugandan president calls on Africa to ‘save the world from homosexuality,’” Guardian, 3 April 2023.

McKenzie, D. and Dean, S. 2023, “Activists link US nonprofit to anti-LGBTQ laws in Africa:  The group says it’s only promoting ‘family values,’” CNN, 18 December 2023.

Mersie, A. and Hlatshwayo, M. 2023, “Insight: Kenya could follow Uganda as East African nations wage war on LGBT rights,” Reuters, 27 June 2023.

Migdon, B. 2023, “GOP House member tells Uganda to ‘stand firm’ in face of opposition to anti-gay law,” The Hill, 29 December 2023.

Miller, M, 2023, “Visa Restrictions for Undermining the Democratic Process in Uganda,” Department of State Press Statement, 16 June, 2023.

Monitor reporter 2023, “Stop imposing homosexuality on us, Museveni tells the West,” Monitor,16 March 2023.

Musambi, E. 2023, “Kenya’s president criticizes court ruling on LGBTQ group,” Associated Press, 2 March 2023.

Reuters 2023a, “Uganda's Museveni wants 'rehabilitation' measures in anti-LGBTQ legislation,” Reuters, 21 April 2023.

Reuters 2023b, “Uganda parliament passes mostly unchanged version of anti-lgbtq bill,” Reuters, 2 May 2023. 

Reuters 2023c, “US imposes visa restrictions on Uganda officials after anti-lgbtq law,” Reuters, 16 June 2023.

Reuters 2024a, “US expresses concern after Burundi president says gay people should be stoned,” Reuters, 5 January 2024.

Reuters 2024b, “Ghana's opposition leader expresses anti-LGBTQ stance ahead of Dec. elections,” Reuters, 31 January 2024.

Sands, L. and Ombuor, R. 2023, “Uganda imposes death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality,’” Washington Post, 29 May 2023.

Tschierse, K. and Eisele, I. 2023, “Why is homophobia so strong in Uganda?” Deutsche Welle, 21 April 2023.

White House 2024, “United States is deeply troubled by President Ndayishimiye remarks targeting certain vulnerable and marginalized Burundians,” The White House, 6 January 2024.

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Blinken's Trip to Africa:  America’s Impotence in the Post-Hegemonic World

By Daniel Volman*

*Daniel Volman is the Director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC (www.africansecurity.org) and a specialist on US national security policy toward Africa and African security issues.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to four African countries—Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Angola—on January 21-26, 2024, demonstrates just how worried US policymakers are about recent developments in Africa.   Despite the demands on his time from the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, Secretary Blinken obviously knows he has to pay attention to Africa.  He and the Biden administration face six overlapping, simultaneous crises in different part of Africa:  the Sahel, Nigeria, Sudan, The Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia), The Great Lakes Region (DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda), and Northern Mozambique.

 

Washington is looking to make a deal with the putschists in Niger to maintain the US drone base at Agadez in northern Niger; this is Blinken’s highest priority.  Washington is also anxious to deal with the deteriorating situation in Nigeria; this is Blinken’s other major priority.  And Washington is competing with China for political, economic, and diplomatic influence in Africa, which is why Blinken will highlight the Lobito Corridor project in Angola, which shows that the US can succeed in the competition with China for economic influence and prestige.

Blinken is right to emphasize that US is doing better on investment and trade these days, while China is doing far worse than generally portrayed.  Chinese President Xi has been severely disappointed by the “Belt and Road” strategy, and has directed his government to abandon many current projects in Africa and to cut back on future Chinese plans for investment Africa.  At the same time, the success of the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and other American economic initiatives in Africa—however limited that success might be—shows that the US can compete with China on its own terms.

But the trip also demonstrates—by the omission of any significant initiatives other than pledging $45 million in weaponry and other military assistance to the remaining members of ECOWAS—that the Biden administration is incapable of responding to the challenges it confronts in Africa, at least for the time being.  It also shows that while Biden may still be committed to making a trip to Africa during his term in office, that can only happen if he wins a second term this coming November.  So Blinken has to go to Africa instead, even though it distracts him from missions in what the US considers more important parts of the world.

It surely is no coincidence that on 25 January, the publication Semfor revealed that Judd Devermont will leave his post as Senior Director for African Affairs in the US National Security Council by mid-February 2024.  Mr. Devermont took office in October 2021 pledging that he would promote a less militaristic US policy toward Africa.  He has concluded, it appears, that his efforts have failed and that remaining in office is a pointless waste of his time.

And on 1 February 2024, the Governor of Zamfara state announced the creation of a vigilante force, following a similar action taken by the Governor of Katsina state in October 2024.  Even Nigerian state governors have so little confidence in the government’s ability to protect the population that they have resorted to arming civilians so they can protect themselves.  That same day, a coalition of 40 civil society groups petitioned Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, expressing concern at the deteriorating security situation and calling upon him to take “actionable steps” to reduce the violence and end human rights abuses by government security forces.  Blinken has his work cut out for him in Nigeria, and throughout the rest of the continent, at least until November 2024.

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The Minerva Research Initiative:

The Military-University-Industry Complex Targets Africa

 

By Daniel Volman*

 

*Daniel Volman is the Director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC (www.africansecurity.org) and a specialist on US national security policy toward Africa and African security issues.

 

 

The Pentagon launched the Minerva Research Initiative in 2008 as a “DoD-sponsored, university-based social science research initiative that focuses on areas of strategic importance to the US national security policy.”  It is intended “to identify and support basic social science research issues in need of attention and to integrate those research insights into the policy-making environment.”  Each spring, the DoD announces three-year grants (which can be extended up to five years.

 

In his announcement of grants on 24 February 2022, Dr. Bindu Nair, the then Director, Basic Research Office in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, stated that “the knowledge and methodologies generated from Minerva awardees have improved DoD’s ability to define sources of present and future conflict with an eye toward better understanding the political trajectories of key regions of the world.”

                                                                         

In FY 2021, the Minerva Research Initiative announced $28.7 million in grants to 17 university-based faculty teams to support research in social and behavioral science.  Grants awarded for 2022-2024 include projects on the national security implications of climate change, US relations with Russia and China, and the impact of climate change on the Sahel.  Dr. Leonardo Villalon of the University of Florida received a grant as principal investigator for a project on “Social and Institutional Determinants of Vulnerability and Resilience to Climate Hazards in the African Sahel.”

 

In his announcement of grants on 26 May 2023, Dr. David Montgomery, director of social sciences in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, stated that “leveraging the strengths of the nation’s academic research institutions helps DoD define sources of present and future conflicts, with an eye toward better understanding the social and political trajectories of key regions of the world.”

 

In FY 2022, MRI announced $18 million in grants to 11 university-based faculty teams.  Grants awarded for 2023-2025 include projects on the internet, the national security implications of climate change, US relations with Russia and China, and the impact of climate change on social and political stability in Africa.  Dr. Arun Agrawal of the University of Michigan received a grant as principal investigator for a project on “Advancing Social Science Research on Demographic Shifts, Climate Change, and Political and Social Stability in Sub-Saharan Africa.  And Dr. Kathy Baylis of the University of California, Santa Barbara, as principal investigator for a project on “The Climate-Food-Urbanizations Nexus and the Precursors of Instability in Africa.”

 

As has been the case since the inception of the Minerva Research Initiative program, one of the principal interests of the Pentagon is projects which it hopes will help it respond to the impact of climate change on stability.  In addition to oonducting humanitarian relief operations—which have always relied heavily on the military and are certain to increase in the future—they are convinced that the “multiplier effect” of climate change will also increase the demand for military intervention in crisis areas.  It is not surprising, therefore, to see grants to projects for Africa and specific projects for the Sahel.

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Biden Responds to the Collapse of US Counterterrorism Strategy in Niger

By Daniel Volman*

*Daniel Volman is the Director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC (www.africansecurity.org), and a specialist on US security policy toward Africa and African security issues.

 

For two months after the coup in Niger on 26 July 2023, the Biden administration refrained from calling or chose not to call it a “coup” because that would have triggered American legislation that would have required it to suspend security cooperation and most other forms of assistance to the junta.  It hoped that by maintaining relations with the junta, it could make a deal with them to permit 1,100 US troops to remain at two Nigerien military bases (at Niamey and the drone operation facility constructed by the United States at a cost of some $110 million at Agadez).

 

On 10 October 2023, after two months of frustration, the Biden administration declared that there had been a coup and the legislation took effect.  To date, the junta has not taken any action regarding the presence of US troops.  Some US personnel have been withdrawn from Niger and the remaining troops have been consolidated in Agadez.  They continue to conduct drone surveillance and reconnaissance flights, but only to monitor threats to their own security, which means they are no longer conduction useful counterterrorism operations in the Sahel.

 

However, the Biden administration has not given up on its strategy of relying on military force to create security, build democratic institutions, and establish political stability in the Sahel and other parts of Africa.  Instead, it has decided to doubled down on this strategy by escalating or expanding US military operations in Africa and strengthening US security relationships or cooperation with political leaders and military officers in Nigeria (current chair of ECOWAS), Ghana, Senegal, Chad, and other key African partners or proxies.  And it keeps trying to reach an agreement with the junta that will allow it to keep American troops based in the country and to resume military cooperation with Niger.

At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on “Instability in the Sahel and West Africa: Implications for U.S. Policy,” on 24 October 2023, Phee declared that there’s also a significant risk that violent extremist organizations might expand their influence or capabilities in the region.  “The coups that have occurred recently in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and now Niger,” she said, “illustrate the democratic regression that threatens not only the people of the Sahel but their neighbors and our partners in coastal west Africa.”

In the case of Niger, Phee testified, “we are working with the regional organization ECOWAS.  The African Union and Africa’s regional economic commissions are essential partners in advancing democracy and peace.  That is why – although we promptly paused the majority of U.S. assistance for Niger after the coup – we delayed at the request of our African partners the formal assessment that the outcome constituted a coup while they sought to restore President Bazoum to office.  Acting Deputy Toria Nuland traveled to Niamey in August to try and convince the generals to restore constitutional order.  I later traveled to west Africa to consult on how to engage a quick and credible restoration of democratic rule.  Secretary Blinken met with ECOWAS Foreign Ministers at the recent UN General Assembly to propose a phased approach to resuming U.S. assistance based on concrete actions to return the country to democratic rule.”

On 3 December 2023, Kathleen FitzGibbon, the newly-appointed US Ambassador handed her credentials to the foreign ministry in Niamey, Niger.  Ms. FitzGibbon formerly served as Division Chief, West and Southern Africa, and then as Director of the Office of Africa Analysis, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, at the State Department in Washington, DC.

On 4 December 2023, the US Special Operations Command Africa began a weeklong conference on counterterrorism in Africa, called “Silent Warrior ’23” and held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.  The conference involved military officers from more than twenty African countries and over a dozen other nations with interests on the continent.  According to a story on the conference in Stars and Stripes, “at the top of the agenda were deep dives into the major extremist threats in Africa: al-Shabab in Somalia, affiliates of ISIS and al-Qaida in the Sahel, and ISIS in Mozambique.”  In his opening statement to the conference, General Michael Langley, commander of Africom, didn’t directly address the situation in Niger, according to the story; but he alluded to it when he stressed the need for militaries to respect civilian authority.  “Good governance is a key to countering violent extremist organizations,” General Langley said.  “Yes, we’ve had some challenges across the continent . . . We know that civilian government, they’re the boss.  We [the military] execute the missions.”

On 5 December 2023, Celeste Wallander, the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, testified before the Africa subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at a hearing on “The Sahel in Crisis:  Examining U.S. Policy Options.”  According to Ms. Wallander, “In the short and medium term, we will support African-led counterterrorism operations to disrupt the most acute threats, with a particular emphasis on those targeting U.S. interests.  In the long term, we will emphasize bilateral security assistance to African defense and security forces in order to build their own homegrown capacity to counter these threats without extensive external assistance.” 

She noted that military coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have resulted in restrictions on military cooperation, led to increased attacks by jihadists, and opened the way for greater Russian influence and military involvement.  “Violent extremist organizations thrive in areas of instability and seek to leverage that instability for their own ends, as evidenced by the attacks we’ve seen in Niger since the coup,” she said. 

“Given this elevated threat environment, the Department of Defense is committed to working with our interagency partners to continue to monitor and disrupt the violent extremist organization threats, while constructively engaging with regional states to restore productive, democratic governance in those countries,” Wallander said.  “In doing so, we are consistently working to strike a balance between offering the practical assistance that our African partners need to face emerging threats, while reinforcing our professional values to help them build strong, resilient institutions that will reinforce not only their physical security, but their democratic stability.”

The Pentagon’s requirement “to monitor indications and warnings of violent extremist organization activity in the Sahel has not changed,” she insisted.  “For the last ten years, our posture in Niger has proven critical to this effort.  Moving forward, we have worked side by side with the Department of State and other interagency partners to define conditions for restoring our activities and operations in Niger.  Nigerian officials must quickly and credibly transition back to democratically elected, civilian led government.”

Testifying at the same hearing, Molly Phee noted the threat that violent extremist violence posed to the countries of coastal west Africa, “including Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, and Togo.”

On 6 December 2023, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, met with Nigerian Minister of Defense Mohammed Badaru Abubakar and Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey in New York City, New York to discuss UN peacekeeping operations in Mali and Sudan, and the coup in Niger.  On 7 December 2023, she gave an interview to Thomas Naadi of BBC News in Accra, Ghana.  When he asked her if the US was “now recognizing the military junta in Niger as the legitimate authority?” she said “Look, what we’re trying to do is get to a solution that will shorten the transition back to civilian government.  So, we’re engaging with this military [in Niger] to put pressure on them and to urge that they return to a civilian government.  We’re also working closely with our regional partners.  We’re working with ECOWAS.”  And, she went on to announce “we’re working to find new ways of providing support, new ways of providing training and equipment to governments on this continent, and particularly in this region.”

On that same day, 7 December 2023, US President Joe Biden issued a Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and President pro tempore of the Senate regarding the War Powers Report, to inform them about deployments of US military forces equipped for combat, including operations in Somalia, Kenya, and Djibouti, in the East Africa Region, and in Niger and other countries in the Lake Chad Basin and Sahel Region.  The administration, Biden stated, “continues to work with partners around the globe, with a particular focus on the United States Central and Africa Commands’ areas of responsibility.  In this context, the United States has deployed forces to conduct counterterrorism operations and to advise, assist, and accompany security forces of select foreign partners on counterterrorism operations.” 

In the East Africa Region, he reported, “United States Armed Forces continue to counter the terrorist threat posed by ISIS and al-Shabaab, an associated force of al-Qa’ida.  Since the last periodic report, United States Armed Forces have conducted a number of airstrikes in Somalia against al-Shabaab in defense of our Somali partner forces.  United States Armed Forces remain prepared to conduct airstrikes in Somalia against ISIS and al-Shabaab terrorists.  United States military personnel conduct periodic engagements in Somalia to train, advise, and assist regional forces, including Somali and African Union Transition Mission in Somalia forces, in connection with counterterrorism operations.  United States military personnel are deployed to Kenya to support counterterrorism operations in East Africa.  United States military personnel continue to partner with the Government of Djibouti, which has permitted use of Djiboutian territory for basing of United States Armed Forces.  United States military personnel remain deployed to Djibouti, including for purposes of staging for counterterrorism and counter-piracy operations in the vicinity of the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and to provide contingency support for embassy security augmentation in East Africa, as necessary.”

And in the Lake Chad Basin and Sahel Region, he reported, “United States military personnel in the Lake Chad Basin and Sahel Region continue to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations and to provide support to African and European partners conducting counterterrorism operations in the region, including by advising, assisting, and accompanying these partner forces.  Approximately 648 United States military personnel remain deployed to Niger.” 

In fact, according to Africom, force levels are holding steady at about 1,000 American military personnel in Niger.  This includes both uniformed service members and military-affiliated civilians.

On 8 December 2023, Molly Phee, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, traveled to Nigeria to meet with regional leaders at the ECOWAS Heads of State Summit on 10 December 2023 and to consult with them on Niger and the Sahel.  Then, on 12 December 2023, Ms. Phee traveled to Niger for discussions with Nigerien officials, including Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine.  And, on 13 December 2023, she announced that the US was ready to resume security cooperation with the junta if it met certain conditions. 

Ms. Phee said she had met with the top ministers in Niger’s ruling military council—the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP)—and encouraged them to announce a timeline for a swift transition back to civilian rule.  The junta must announce “a deadline for a rapid and credible transition” leading to “a democratically elected government,” she told a press conference in Niamey.  And “we have confirmed that we are ready to resume our cooperation if the CNSP takes the steps I have outlined.”  “I encourage the CNSP to respond positively to the ECOWAS offer for negotiation; the United States supports the resolutions of the regional organization.”  ECOWAS offered to ease sanctions if the junta agrees to a notably “short transition.”

“In our discussions,” she told a press conference in Niamey, “I confirmed the intent of the United States to resume security and development cooperation in phases, reciprocally as the CNSP takes action.”  She went on to say that “I have made it clear to the CNSP that we want to be a good partner again, but the CNSP has to be a good partner to the United States.”  And she said she urged the junta to respond positively to an offer for high-level negotiations with ECOWAS, which announced on 10 December 2023 that it would ease sanctions on Niger if talks with the military leaders went well. 

Following his meeting with Ms. Phee, Prime Minister Mahaman Lamine Zeine said on 13 December 2023 that “If the Americans want to say here with their forces, they should tell us what they want to do.” 

When the United States declared that a coup had taken place in Niger, it seemed almost certain that the junta would expel US troops, just as they had expelled French troops earlier.  It is now clear, however, that the junta is interested in negotiating a deal with the Biden administration.  It remains to be seen what conditions Washington will insist on and what concessions it will make to the Nigerien junta in order to start conducting counterterrorism operations in Niger again.

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On 4 January 2024, however, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Washington is now “seeking to base military drones along the West African coast” and “is holding preliminary talks to allow American unarmed reconnaissance drones to use airfields in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Benin.”  According to the report, retired US Air Force Major General Mark Hicks, a former commander of US Special Operations forces in Africa said that “the Niger coup has forced our hand,” and “there’s really not much option other than to fall back and operate out of the coastal West African states.” 

 

Moreover, said a senior US military official, “coastal West African countries that used to be insulated no longer are” and, according to the report, “suggest Washington believes Mali and Burkina Faso are so inundated with Islamist militants that they are beyond the reach of Western help, and that it fears Niger, which until a July coup was the staunchest American ally in the region, is now unreliable.”  So, according to US and African military officers, the US has proposed basing drones at the Ghanaian Air Force base at Tamale, the airfield at Parakou in Benin, and three airfields in Cote d’Ivoire.

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Posted on AllAfrica.Com on 14 October 2023

Collapse of US Counterterrorism Strategy in the Sahel

By Daniel Volman

For two months after the coup in Niger in August, 2023, the Biden administration refused to declare that a “coup” had taken place.  They did this because using the word would activate US laws requiring the cut off of all security cooperation, development assistance, and economic support. 

 

They also hoped that they could make a deal with the junta to keep1,100 US troops at two bases in Niger and continue running counterterrorism operations throughout the Sahel using drones.  They finally concluded that it would not be possible to reach an agreement with the junta and on, 10 October 2023, the Biden administration declared that a coup had taken place. 

 

It is highly almost certain that the junta will respond by ending US counterterrorism operations launched from its territory and will expel US troops, just as it has expelled French troops.  At least this is what officers of the US Africa Command (Africom) think.  According to General James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, “the US is actively considering new host nations,” and “There are several locations I’ll say that we’re looking at, but nothing’s firmed up.  We have talked to some countries about it.”

 

Africom operations in the Sahel depend on the use of sophisticated air bases in the immediate area for intelligence-gathering, surveillance, and support for Nigerian military operations.  The US spent $110 million modernizing the Nigerian air base at Agadez (where all US military personnel have now been relocated) for these operations. 

 

If the US is forced to end operations at the base it modernized at Agadez and to withdraw US troops from Niger, they may be able to relocate to another country.  But it’s hard to see how the US can continue to pursue its counterterrorism strategy in the Sahel without a base in the immediate area.

 

During his visit to Kenya on 25 September 2023, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that Washington would “evaluate any future steps that would prioritize both our diplomatic and security goals” in the Sahel.  The Biden administration now has to do more than just “evaluate” its military operations in the Sahel; it has to bring them to an end.

 

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Posted on AllAfrica.Com on  3 October 2023

U.S. Defense Secretary Austin’s Trip to Africa:

Can the U.S. Military Hold the Line in Africa?

By Daniel Volman

On 25 September 2023, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin addressed reporters in Nairobi, Kenya.  He was in the country during his first official visit to Africa for meetings with African leaders, including Kenyan President William Ruto and Cabinet Secretary of Defense Aden Duale. Speaking about the ongoing crisis in Niger, he said “While we give diplomacy a chance, we will also evaluate any future steps that would prioritize both our diplomatic and security goals.”  He declared that Washington had “not made any significant change to our force postures and . . . we really want to see a diplomatic solution, a peaceful end” to the ongoing crisis in Niger.

 

Earlier, during a meeting in Washington with President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique on 22 September 2023, Secretary Austin noted that “across the continent, we’ve seen autocrats undermine free and fair elections and blocked [sic] peaceful transitions of power.  When generals overturn the will of the people, and put their own ambitions above the rule of law, security suffers, and democracy dies.”  He went on to say that “As a Biden administration strategy for sub-Saharan Africa notes, effective, legitimate, and accountable militaries and other security forces are essential to support open, democratic, and resilient societies and to counter destabilizing threats.  Or to put it more bluntly, militaries exist to defend their people and not to defy them.  And Africa needs militaries that serve their citizens and not the other way around.”

 

And on 27 September 2023, in remarks Austin made in Luanda, Angola, he observed that “other countries may see African countries as proxies or even pawns,” but the United States wants “to move forward together, through growing partnerships rooted in mutual cooperation and mutual respect.”  Thus, “our outstanding U.S. Africa Command, led by General Michael Langley, provides a range of support to our partners in Africa, and that includes professional military education, capacity-building, counterterrorism, logistics and much, much more.” 

 

But, he insisted, “we also take a broader view of security.  You know, it’s always easier to stamp out an ember than it is to put out a blaze, so we’re doubling down on conflict prevention, especially through the U.S. strategy to prevent conflict and to promote stability.  We’re working with seven African partners to find creative ways to prevent conflict before it starts and to invest in locally-led solutions to buttress lasting peace.”  He declared that “the United States will never take your partnership for granted.  The people of Africa deserve to chart their own sovereign paths.  And so we aren’t asking African countries to choose any side other than their own.”

 

Secretary Austin’s trip to Djibouti, Kenya, and Angola followed the wake of the coup in Niger and the expulsion of French counter-insurgency troops.  In the aftermath of the coup, American military personnel stationed in Niamey, the capital of Niger, were moved to Base 101, the base near Agadez modernized by the Americans at an estimated cost of $110 million to serve as a base for intelligence and surveillance operations using drones and to support counter-insurgency operations by Nigerian soldiers.

 

In addition to in the Sahel, the Biden administration faces serious and escalating crises elsewhere in Africa:  The continuing security crisis in Nigeria; Sudan’s civil war; ethnic violence in the Ethiopian provinces of Tigray and Amhara; and the deteriorating security situation in Somalia.

 

The United States is not in retreat in Africa; Washington is committed to holding the line against violent extremist organizations and global rivals: Russia and China.  The key role that Africa plays in America’s struggle to assert and maintain its global hegemony means that Washington will stay on the same course it has pursued for years.  But the question remains: can the US military hold the line in Africa, and should it keep pursuing a strategy that relies on the use of military power and that has proven both futile and counterproductive for the United States.

 

The United States has been promising for years to treat African countries as partners, and has disavowed any desire to make them choose between the United States and its global rivals.  And it insists that democratic government, the protection of human rights and international law, military respect for civilian rule, and a better life for the people are its goals in Africa.  But Africans have heard this all before.  The Biden administration has to do more than just “evaluate” its military operations in Africa; it has to bring them to an end.

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nsert new section here

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Upcoming Article On :

“Africa and the New Geopolitics of World Conflict”

 The increasing military involvement of the US, France, China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and other new external actors in Africa

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Posted on AllAfrica.Com on 3 April 2023

U.S. Military Commander Reveals African Secrets

By Daniel Volman

Four-star Marine General Michael Langley, the new commander of the U.S. Africa Command (Africom), revealed two astounding secrets about U.S. military operations in Africa on 16 March 2023, when he appeared at the Senate Armed Services Committee annual hearing on the Africom budget request. 

 

In his testimony, Langley disclosed that Africom has established a forward headquarters in Africa (in addition to its main headquarters in Stuttgart, German).  When asked if Africom might follow the example of Central Command (which has its main headquarters in Tampa, Florida, but which has established a forward headquarters in Qatar), he replied that “I can talk about that in closed session, because we do have something established to that contract.”

 

General Langley also publicly and directly contradicted the repeated assertions by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and many other American officials that Washington did not want to make African countries choose between the United States and its Sino-Russian rivals.  Washington’s actual view, he explained, was that “they make choices, and they make the wrong choices in siding with—going with either PRC or Russia for especially lethal aid.”

 

As Langley explained, this means that Washington should make it easier and faster for African governments to get American military equipment.  African governments “come and they ask and said, hey General Langley, we don’t want your boots on the ground, we want your equipment.”  But the U.S. arms sales program, “it’s moving too slow, Senator, just moving too slow and they make the wrong decisions.”

 

So African governments will be judged by the company they keep—the United States or Russia and China—and will be treated accordingly.  Making the “wrong choices” or the “wrong decisions” will have consequences.

 

For additional information and data, see “Biden’s FY 2024 Budget Plan for Africa:  Send More Guns” below:

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Posted on AllAfrica.Com on 3 April 2023

Biden's FY 2024 Budget Plan for Africa:  Send More Guns

 

By Daniel Volman

 

On 9 March 2023, President Biden released his security assistance budget request for Africa for FY 2024, the first new budget request he has submitted since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  The age of American supremacism (in which the United States led an international coalition of allies that sought to dictate global geopolitical relations in the aftermath of the end of the Cold War at the 1980s) has come to an end with a bang and a new age of multi-polar great power struggle to establish a new global geopolitical order has begun.  The new security assistance budget request provides us with some clear indications of what place Africa holds in the Biden administration’s vision of a new world order.

 

U.S. security interests in Africa have evolved significantly since the Bush administration created Africom (the military command with responsibility for managing U.S. military operations and programs in Africa) in 2008.  From the beginning, however, the new command was focused on three missions:  protecting U.S. access to African strategic raw materials (particularly oil and rare earth metals) and African military facilities, countering Chinese and Russian economic expansion and military presence on the continent, and backing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations by its African allies. 

Although Theresa Whelan, the Deputy Director of Defense for African Affairs (who directed the creation of Africom) tried to deceive the U.S. Congress about the purpose of the new command, the truth was revealed by officers of the U.S. Logistics Command, who quoted a briefing that she gave to a European Command conference in 2004 in which she stated quite clearly that Africom’s mission was to “prevent establishment of/disrupt/destroy terrorist groups, stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction, perform evacuations of U.S. citizens in danger, assure access to strategic resources, lines of communication and refueling/forward sites” for the deployment of American troops throughout the continent.  And in a presentation by Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, the first deputy commander of Africom, at a Defense Department conference held at Fort McNair on 18 February 2008, he specifically cited “oil disruption,” “terrorism,” and the “growing influence” of China as the principal challenges to U.S. interests in Africa.

Although Theresa Whelan, the Deputy Director of Defense for African Affairs (who directed the creation of Africom) tried to deceive the U.S. Congress about the purpose of the new command, the truth was revealed by officers of the U.S. Logistics Command, who quoted a briefing that she gave to a European Command conference in 2004 in which she stated quite clearly that Africom’s mission was to “prevent establishment of/disrupt/destroy terrorist groups, stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction, perform evacuations of U.S. citizens in danger, assure access to strategic resources, lines of communication and refueling/forward sites” for the deployment of American troops throughout the continent.  And in a presentation by Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, the first deputy commander of Africom, at a Defense Department conference held at Fort McNair on 18 February 2008, he specifically cited “oil disruption,” “terrorism,” and the “growing influence” of China as the principal challenges to U.S. interests in Africa.

 

New Africom Commander Testifies to Congress

While the relative ranking of these priorities has shifted over the years since then, they remain Africom’s core missions.  In his March 2023 testimony before the Senate and House Armed Services Committee hearings on the budget request, the newly appointed commander of Africom, Marine General Michael Langley was questioned primarily about Chinese and Russian activities on the continent.  “The aspirations of China is threefold,” Langley asserted, “one from a geopolitical—they’re trying to change the international norms and they’re using some African countries within the U.N. construct whether it be the General Assembly or the Security Council trying to affect votes to change those international norms and international system writ large.”  Then, “there is a geopolitical operation and their aspiration for military bases on the continent of Africa.”  And, “the last piece, Senator, is geo-economic—our future—our future economy is dependent upon a number of rare earth minerals, and also some are clean energy technologies depend upon the rare earth minerals.  About 30 to 40 percent of those minerals are on the continent of Africa, that—that’s forward thinking by the PRC.”

 

Langley claimed that China is trying to get military bases on the west coast of Africa.  “They do have other aspirations, and in closed session, Ranking Member, I know that I can be able to lay that out, where in West Africa is their next military base aspiration.”  If they do establish a base, “it would change the whole calculus of the geostrategic global campaign plans of protecting the homeland.  It would shorten their, if they—they build any capacity on the West Coast, geostrategically it would put them at an advantage.”  He went on to declare that “we can’t let them have a base on the West Cost because it would change the dynamics.”

And when asked if he thought it was “vital that we keep China from taking over that—that port [Capetown] there in South Africa?”, Langley replied “Absolutely so—sir, because as we look at the Cape of Good Hope and look at how much transit that our commerce goes across, and it’s also—it can also be a power projection point as well, so we can ill afford, from a geostrategic position allow either the PRC or even Russia to use that as a platform.”

General Langley also publicly and directly contradicted the repeated assertions by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and many other American officials that Washington did not want to make African countries choose between the United States and its Sino-Russian rivals.  As he put it, “they make choices, and they make the wrong choices in siding with—going with either PRC or Russia for especially lethal aid.”

According Langley, this means that Washington should make it easier and quicker for African governments to get American military equipment.  African governments “come and they ask and said, hey General Langley, we don’t want your boots on the ground, we want your equipment.”  But the U.S. arms sales program, “it’s moving too slow, Senator, just moving too slow and they make the wrong decisions.”

And finally, Langley revealed that Africom has established a forward headquarters in Africa (in addition to its main headquarters in Stuttgart, German).  When asked if Africom might follow the example of Central Command (which has its main headquarters in Tampa, Florida, but which has established a forward headquarters in Qatar), he replied that “I can talk about that in closed session, because we do have something established to that contract.”

Biden's FY 2024 Budget Plan for Africa

Now that the Biden administration has released its FY 2024 security assistance budget request for Africa, what does it tell us about the administration’s intentions and objectives?

 

  • International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Program (INCLE)

INCLE funding for Africa will remain almost unchanged at 59.1 million for

Regional programs in East Africa, West Africa, and the Sahel as well as bilateral programs in Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, and other countries.  Africa also likely to receive substantial funding through the Countering People’s Republic of China Malign Influence Fund ($70.0 million), the Prevention and Stabilization Fund ($15.5 million), and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons ($66.0 million).

 

  • Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs (NADR)

 

The Biden administration proposes a modest increase in NADR funding for Africa from through a variety of programs.  The most important is the Antiterrorism Assistance program, which will increase to $274 million for Bureau of Counterterrorism (CTF) programs throughout the world, including programs in Kenya, Somalia, Tunisia, and other African countries.  In addition, African countries are likely to a significant proportion of the $55.0 million requested for the Terrorist Interdiction Program/Personal Identification, Secure Comparison, and Evaluation System (TIP/PISCES), as well as some of the $237.1 million requested for the Conventional Weapons Destruction program (CWD) to secure and combat the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, including Man Portable Air Defense Systems in the Sahel-Maghrib region and “countering the PRC’s malign influence in Africa and Asia through high-visibility, high-impact demining efforts.”

 

  • Peacekeeping Operations (PKO)

 

The Biden administration intends to maintain funding for Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) at nearly its current level.  The administration is requesting $260.0 for regional and bilateral programs to enhance the ability of African partners to conduct counterterrorism operations in East Africa (specifically in Somalia and South Sudan), sustain counterterrorism operations in East Africa and West Africa, conduct maritime security operations, and strengthen land and maritime borders.  It is also asking for $33.4 million for the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership in the Maghrib and “across the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin countries (including potentially the littoral West African countries of Ghana, Benin, and Togo).”

 

It is also requesting $52.5 million in regional PKO funds to pay for a variety of programs, including the African Maritime Security Initiative, African Regional Counterterrorism program, the Countering Strategic Competitors program, and the Partnership for Regional East African Counterterrorism.

 

In addition, African countries are likely to receive some of the funding requested for the Prevention and Stabilization Fund ($5.0 million) “to bolster the capacity of partner governments to conduct counter-terrorism operations,” the Global Peace Operations Initiative ($71.0 million) “by reinforcing partner country capacity to generate, train, deploy, and sustain peacekeepers,” the Global Defense Reform Program ($18.0 million) “to enhance the ability of these countries to provide for their own defense in an effective, transparent, and accountable way.”

 

  • International Military Education and Training Program (IMET)

 

The Biden administration plans to boost spending on for the International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs for African countries (under which African military officers receive professional military training at home and at military facilities in the United States) to $38.6 million.  Major recipients include Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and South Africa.  The request specifically identifies Djibouti, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal as “priority recipients.”

 

  • Foreign Military Financing Program (FMF)

 

The budget request for FMF funding (through which the United States provides loans and grants to African governments for the purchases of U.S.-made military equipment) includes another $6 million for Djibouti in FY 2024 “to help bolster the bilateral relationship with Djibouti and counter malign [Chinese] influences in the region—a top U.S. national security priority.”

 

The request also calls for another $10 million in FMF for Morocco and $45 million for Tunisia. The Biden administration says the Tunisian armed forces “remain on the front lines of the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups and the instability emanating from Libya, and serve as an important apolitical institution in Tunisian society.”  This appears to be an attempt to demonstrate America’s concern about the deterioration of democratic institutions in that country.

 

In addition, African countries will receive some of the $50.0 million in FMF funding that is being requested for the Countering People’s Republic of China Fund.  The money will be used “as seed money to incentivize partners to commit national funds to modernizing their militaries and divesting from PRC provided equipment.”  This is intended to “reduce opportunities for the PRC to coerce and exert influence over [U.S.] partners.”  And the budget includes $113.0 million to fund a new global FMF line called “Emerging Global Priorities” to “address emergent foreign policy priorities in the age of heightened  strategic competition” with China and Russia.  It will be used, in part, “to support regional stability in Africa and NATO’s southern flank, especially if Tunisia shows signs of a return to democratic governance.”

 

  • Foreign Military Sales Program (FMS)

 

The delivery of 12 A-29 Super Tucano counterinsurgency aircraft to Nigeria through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program was completed in July and October 2021, not long after the inauguration of President Biden.  The sale to the Nigerian Air Force (which cost Nigeria $593 million), completed an arms deal initiated by the Obama administration and continued by the Trump administration.  The planes are armed with twin machine guns, and can carry up to 1,550 kilograms of additional weaponry, including air-to-air missiles, bombs, rocket pods, and gun pods.   And on April 14, 2022, the State Department announced that the Biden administration will proceed with the sale of twelve Bell Helicopter AH-1Z helicopter gunships to Nigeria, armed with 20mm machine guns and guided missiles.  The deal (worth $997 million) was initiated by the Trump administration in January 2021, before the inauguration of President Biden. 

 

U.S. Congress Questions Biden’s Policy

In December 2022, Reuters published two reports on its investigation of major human rights violations by the Nigerian military.  In the first, it reported that Nigerian security forces have murdered thousands of children captured during military operations against jihadi insurgents.  Babies, infants, and young children were executed because they were believed to be child soldiers or the children of insurgents.  In the second, it reported that since at least 2013, the Nigerian military had conducted a secret, systematic, and illegal abortion program that ended at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls.  Many of them had been kidnapped and raped by jihadi insurgents.

 

In reaction, US Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking Republican member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to request a review of US security assistance to Nigeria.  Risch also called for the State Department to examine the potential use of American sanctions against Nigeria for its violence against women and children.  “I look forward to hearing more about the Department’s planned response to the serious and abhorrent allegations levied against a long-standing beneficiary of U.S. security assistance and cooperation which, if deemed credible, have done irreparable harms to a generation of Nigerian citizens and to US credibility in the region,” Risch said in his letter to Blinken.

 

In February 2023, two members of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representatives Sara Jacobs (D-California) and Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), sent a letter to President Biden calling upon him to cancel the sale and review US security assistance and cooperation programs in Nigeria.  As they pointed out, “the assistance we have provided has done little to stem the conflict—in fact, insecurity has worsened from the abuses committed by Nigerian forces.” 

 

Therefore, they concluded, “we believe continuing to move forward with the nearly $1 billion arms sale would be highly inappropriate and we urge the Administration to rescind it.  Given the recent reporting of Nigeria’s previously unknown mass forced abortion program—which allegedly ended at least 10,000 pregnancies—and the targeting of potentially thousands of children, we also urge a review of security assistance and cooperation programs in Nigeria.”

 

And Even More Guns!

 

On 27 March 2024, U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris announced that even more American weapons would be sent to Africa.  She traveled to Accra, Ghana, and held a joint news conference with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo.  She revealed that the Biden administration would give $100 million worth of new military support over the next ten years to Ghana, Benin, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo, in addition to the aid in its budget request for these countries.  The bulk of the money—at least 86 million—will be delivered over the next three years, according to the Biden administration, and doesn’t require congressional approval.

 

Although it is impossible to calculate a precise figure, it is clear that security assistance programs administered by the State Department will spend approximately $600 million on programs in Africa in FY 2024 under the administration’s budget proposal.  At the same time, the Defense Department budget request includes approximately $750 in spending on Africom, including the costs to operate the U.S. military base established in Djibouti, conduct Drug Interdiction and Counter-Drug operations, and provide equipment and training to African military and internal security forces.  The Defense Department also spends large amounts of money each year to dispatch ships to make calls at

A

African ports, to conduct annual training exercises like the annual “Flintlock” exercises in West Africa and the annual “African Lion” exercises in North Africa and the Sahel, to send teams of Special Forces instructors to conduct training in African countries, to conduct drone attack and surveillance operations, and to send excess/surplus defense equipment to African recipients.  But it is only possible to provide a rough estimate of these expenditures.  Taken altogether, the United States government spends at least $1.5 billion on African

security programs every year, and probably as much as $2 billion.

 

 

​​​

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

FY 2022 Security Assistance Actual

Spending, FY 2023 Request, and

FY 2024 Request

($ in thousands)

 

 

Security Assistance                 FY 2022               FY 2023                 FY 2024     

Program                                   Actual                  Request                 Request

 

 

INCLE

 

Africa Total                          71,300                  50,800                   51,900

 

Central African

    Republic                            4,500                    3,250                     3,250

Democratic Republic

   of Congo                             6,000                   3,000                     3,000

Ethiopia                                  1,50                     1,000                     1,000

Ghana                                   3,000                     3,000                     3.000

Kenya                                    4,450                     3,000                     3.000

Liberia                                   5,570                     4,350                     4,350

Morocco                                3,600                     2,500                     2,500

Nigeria                                   6,400                    3,200                     4,300

Somalia                                 3,000                    1,000                     1,000

Sudan                                      500                            -                              -

Tunisia                                  6,000                   12,000

Africa Regional                   32,250                   29,000                    29,000

 

 IMET

 

Africa Total                       17,908                  19,280                    20,805

 

Algeria                                1,354                    1,000                      1,300

Angola                                   478                       500                         600

Benin                                     254                       500                         600  

Botswana                              640                        600                       600

Burundi                                      -                           -                         200

Cabo Verde                           196                        400                      400

Cameroon                              596                       600                       600

Central African          

   Republic                              141                       150                       200

Chad                                       -                           800                       800

Comoros                               197                         300                       300

Cote d’Ivoire                         344                         500                        600

Democratic Republic

   of Congo                            245                         400                        400

Djibouti                                  858                         895                        895     

Equatorial Guinea                 175                         500                        500

Eswatini                                 100                        100                         200

Gabon                                    232                        400                        500

Gambia                                  191                        200                        200

Ghana                                    835                        800                        900

Guinea-Bissau                         71                        100                        200

Kenya                                  1,245                     1,000                     1,100

Lesotho                                  113                        100                       200                 

Liberia                                    420                        360                       360

Madagascar                           396                       300                        300

Malawi                                    410                       500                        300

Mauretania                              629                      500                        500    

Mauritius                                 337                       200                       400                                                 

Morocco                               1,112                       600                    2,000

Mozambique                           818                       600                       600               

Namibia                                     89                      100                       200

Niger                                        860                       875                   1,000

Nigeria                                     996                    1,000                   1,000

Republic of the Congo             421                       200                      200

Rwanda                                    420                      550                      550

Sao Tome and Principe           104                       200                      200 

Senegal                                    957                      850                      900

Seychelles                                362                      200                      200

Sierre Leone                             775                      400                      400

Somalia                                     344                     300                       300

South Africa                              395                      650                       650

Tanzania                                   804                      750                       750

Togo                                         305                       500                      600

Tunisia                                   1,488                    2,000                   2,300

Uganda                                     761                      700                       700

Zambia                                      363                      500                       500

NADR Antiterrorism

Assistance

 

Africa Total                       40,500                     39,500                39,500

 

Kenya                                 5,500                       5,500                 5,500

Somalia                              4,000                       4,000                 4,000

Tunisia                                5,000                       1,000                 2,000

Africa Regional                 31,000                     30,000               30,000

 

 

PKO

 

Africa Total                    266,809                   303,659              260,558

 

Central African

Republic                               550                             -                          -    

Democratic Republic

of Congo                           4,000                             -                           -

Somalia                         208,108                   233,209              208,108

Africa Regional                54,151                     52,450                52,450             

Tran-Saharan

Counter-Terrorism

Partnership                      38,500                     33,400                33,400

___________________________

Posted on AllAfrica.Com on12 March 2023

Nigeria: Biden Faces Nigeria Crisis

By Daniel Volman

Washington, DC — President Biden faces three simultaneous crises in his policy toward Nigeria in the aftermath of the elections on Saturday, 25 February, when 24 million Nigerians voted in national elections. Now, following the election of Bola Tinubu as president, they are all coming to a head.

President Biden faces three simultaneous crises in his policy toward Nigeria in the aftermath of the elections on Saturday, 25 February, when 24 million Nigerians voted in national elections.  Now, following the election of Bola Tinubu as president, they are all coming to a head.

First, Washington’s efforts over the past twelve years to get the Buhari government to end or reduce official corruption in Nigeria, to end or reduce state violence against civilians (especially women and children) and non-violent demonstrators, to contain or defeat jihadi insurgencies, and to reform the economy have completely failed. 

The government is still completely corrupt.  The military and other internal security forces have killed peaceful demonstrators, forced women to have abortions, and murdered children with impunity.  Jihadi insurgents in northern Nigeria have suffered serious casualties, but the conflict continues unabated.  The economy is in shambles as oil prices (the source of almost all government revenue) continue to fluctuate and oil production levels continue to fall, a chaotic currency exchange, and the previous government of President Buhari chose not to invest oil revenues in the development of the economy.  Nothing that the Biden administration has done has made any difference.

Second, the government’s conduct of the election on 25 February, the violence that occurred during the polling, and the associated currency crisis, have only made the situation worse. 

Third, members of Congress are stepping up their efforts to block future US arms deliveries to Nigeria. 

 

Over the past six years, US has sold more than $1.6 billion worth of weaponry and other military equipment to Nigeria ($593 million for 12 A-29 Super Tucano counter-insurgency aircraft and $1 billion for 12 AH-1Z Cobra helicopter gunships).  In 2015, the Obama administration agreed to sell 12 A-29 Super Tucano counter-insurgency aircraft) to Nigeria.  Congress was officially notified of the deal by the Trump administration in 2017 and the warplanes were delivered by the Biden administration in 2021.

 

“I would also like to thank you again through—thank the Government of the U.S. for the cooperation on security, which has been very important to us,’ Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo told U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja on 18 November 2021, during Blinken’s visit to Nigeria.  “The Super Tucanos have been delivered, and of course,” he added, “we’re looking forward to the [attack] helicopters as well.”

 

As Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffry Onyeama put it, the Biden administration has been “supportive in the security area, provided a Super Tucano aircraft.”  And while “we have a slight issue with some attack helicopters,” he declared, “that’s more on the legislative side and not on the executive side.”

 

In his response, Secretary Blinken made no mention of US arms sales to Nigeria.  However, Blinken did assert that the United States did “very much appreciate as well the security cooperation that we’re developing and making sure that we do it in a comprehensive way that puts our concerns about people first and foremost in what we’re doing.”

 

But events in Nigeria have provoked increasing resistance from US legislators to the sale of combat aircraft to Nigeria and have put the helicopter gunship deal in jeopardy.  In 2017, US Senators Cory Brooker (D-New Jersey) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging that the sale of the A-29s be postponed until Nigeria demonstrated progress in investigating several incidents in which its security forces had killed hundreds of civilians.  They stated that “we are concerned that the decision to proceed with this sale will empower the government of Nigeria to backtrack even further on its commitments to human rights, accountability, and upholding international humanitarian law, which in turn could spur greater unrest and violence, particularly in the northeastern part of the country.” 

 

They went on to declare, “there is evidence that the Nigerian military routinely flouts the laws of war and there remains an absence of adequate safeguards and accountability mechanisms.  This means that the Tucano aircraft could be used in a manner inconsistent with international human rights and humanitarian law—and that ultimately helps to strengthen Boko Haram.”  Therefore, “we believe proceeding without any clear indication of progress from the Nigerian government on the protection of human rights and enforcement of accountability would run contrary to our national security objectives.”  However, Congress took no action during the 30-day period legally mandated for it to review the sale.  A State Department official then confirmed that the arms deal “has completed the congressional notification process, and we are currently working to finalize the proposed sale with the Nigerian government.”

 

The sale of 12 AH-1Z helicopter gunships has proven even more contentious, particularly since the Republican Party won control of the US House of Representatives in the 2022 midterm elections.

 

In July 2021, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee put a hold on the sale of helicopter gunships in response to the massacre of peaceful protesters at a demonstration against SAR in Lagos in October 2020.  In April 2022, the Biden administration announced that it would ignore congressional concerns and approve the sale on the dubious grounds that “the proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a strategic partner in Sub-Saharan Africa.” 

 

In December 2022, Reuters published two reports on its investigation of major human rights violations by the Nigerian military.  In the first, it reported that Nigerian security forces have murdered thousands of children captured during military operations against jihadi insurgents.  Babies, infants, and young children were executed because they were believed to be child soldiers or the children of insurgents.  In the second, it reported that since at least 2013, the Nigerian military had conducted a secret, systematic, and illegal abortion program that ended at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls.  Many of them had been kidnapped and raped by jihadi insurgents.

In reaction, US Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking Republican member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to request a review of US security assistance to Nigeria.  Risch also called for the State Department to examine the potential use of American sanctions against Nigeria for its violence against women and children.  “I look forward to hearing more about the Department’s planned response to the serious and abhorrent allegations levied against a long-standing beneficiary of US security assistance and cooperation which, if deemed credible, have done irreparable harms to a generation of Nigerian citizens and to US credibility in the region,” Risch said in his letter to Blinken.

 

In February 2023, two members of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representatives Sara Jacobs (D-California) and Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), sent a letter to President Biden calling upon him to cancel the sale and review US security assistance and cooperation programs in Nigeria.  As they pointed out, “the assistance we have provided has done little to stem the conflict—in fact, insecurity has worsened from the abuses committed by Nigerian forces.” 

Therefore, they concluded, “we believe continuing to move forward with the nearly $1 billion arms sale would be highly inappropriate and we urge the Administration to rescind it.  Given the recent reporting of Nigeria’s previously unknown mass forced abortion program—which allegedly ended at least 10,000 pregnancies—and the targeting of potentially thousands of children, we also urge a review of security assistance and cooperation programs in Nigeria.”

A few days later, the Biden administration unveiled a revised set of rules for US global arms export, known as the Conventional Arms Transfer policy.  Under the revised policy, arms sales will not be approved if the State Department concludes that the equipment “more likely than not” will be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity, breaches of the Geneva conventions, or serious violations of international law.”  Nobody will take this policy seriously if the helicopter gunships are delivered.

 

The Biden administration’s dilemma is not balancing human rights and security considerations.  US security assistance and America’s complicity in the Nigerian government’s human rights violations fuels the insurgencies and boosts public support for them.  At the very least, the Biden administration should postpone the delivery of the helicopter gunships until it can provide Congress with tangible and conclusive evidence that the Nigerian government has reduced official corruption and human rights violations by its security forces.

 

The Biden administration has no choice except to develop a policy that actually strengthens democracy, promotes real economic development, reduces governmental corruption, and curbs human rights violations.  Anything less will be a disaster for the United States and for Nigeria.  The future of US-Africa relations is at stake.  Will the Biden administration continue a policy of hypocrisy, deception, and militarization or will it carry out a real change in US policy?

 

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