Tag Archives: Africa

Sudans Extermination of Christians: an Interview With Simon Deng

As a child, American human rights activist Simon Deng survived brutal enslavement by Islamists and witnessed their destruction of his village in Sudan. 

Today, at 50, Deng is an American citizen and one of the leading advocates for the rights of his people, the Christians of South Sudan. In 2006 he organized a walk from the United Nations to the Capitol in Washington D.C. to protest the massacre of Darfuri Muslims by the government of Sudan, the same government that he says has brutalized Sudan’s Christians, killing over three and a half million since 1955 through slaughter and starvation.

Deng was joined on his historic Freedom Walk by basketball legend Manute Bol, originally of Sudan, who played for the Washington Bullets and the Philadelphia 76ers. The march received coverage in the New York Daily News and other outlets, gaining Deng an audience with President George W. Bush, whose efforts to end the war between Sudan’s Islamist government and the country’s Christian and animist populations produced a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. This agreement provides for a referendum, in 2011, in which South Sudanese Christians will have the opportunity to vote to form an autonomous nation. Today, Deng reports that Sudan’s Islamist government in the north is failing to abide by the CPA, resulting in chronic food shortages, sporadic violence, and insecurity among Christians in the south.

With high hopes for South Sudan’s independence, Deng is working to promote alliance among the U.S. government, the Israeli government, and a future South Sudanese Christian state to promote international security. Recently the Center for Security Policy sat down with him to discuss these possibilities, and to report on his experiences on the African front of the war between radical Islamism and rest of the world.

Below is the first segment of the interview.

 

Heather Robinson: I understand you were the victim, as a child in the 1960’s, of the radical Islamist government of Sudan, which has waged war on its Christian population intermittently since 1955. Can you share with me a bit of your firsthand experiences of violence directed at Sudan’s Christians by the government?

Simon Deng: As a child, the first words I was taught were, ‘When you see an Arab, you have to run, and you have to run for your life.’ Year after year, we came to know a routine. The village being burned, us being chased … [We spent] days in the bush which is full of hyenas, lions and snakes. We did not even have mosquito nets at that time. When we got one mosquito net, the whole village would preserve that for the kids, to be the ones under that mosquito net, and grownups had to stay out.

HR: The government burned your village regularly?

SD: Yes. …Whenever we escaped, we came back to the village we loved and we [would] find the horrible smell of people who had been burned alive. I smelled this. The two elders, one blind, being burned alive. Grownup people, people who were too old to run. They were too weak to run, and one of them was blind. These were the people that I knew…that we used to play with…[They would] tell us history of the past, and now being told-remember, we are kids now-being told these are the people that were burned alive. It was a horrible thing.

HR: Was this burning of villages official government policy? Why was it taking place?

SD: The village [would be] going through burnings every year. The government [would] come and burn it down…not just human beings but this place, because according to them, we will go to the inner city, where we would be converted to Islam. None of us knew this was their policy. We only knew the horrible death, running when the machine guns come, seeing the bullets flying and seeing my friends being shot, two of them. There were five of us. We were seven, eight years old…And for us who remained running, if it was not for those who ran before us we would have just gone and gone and probably I would not be here. Because people had to run after us to stop us.

HR: What happened to your friends who were shot?

SD: One died, one was shot in the leg and [crippled] for life.

HR: These were government soldiers purposely shooting at you-at children?

SD: The Sudanese Army, yes. To them, you are not a child, you are an enemy to be killed. This [was] not just happening in our village alone, it [was] happening in the whole entire Southern Sudan.

HR: How much of this do you believe was spurred by Islamist ideology?

SD: A lot of it…Omar al Bashir, the President of Sudan, has spoken about how he managed to achieve the objective [of] converting more Southerners to Islam than any other President before him. He did this not only through violence but through [withholding] food aid. When the government in the North got food from international organizations and the United Nations, he would control it. When starving [Christians] needed food he would say, ‘If you convert to Islam.’ When people are starving, they will do [what they have to] to eat.

HR: As you know, many people are unaware that radical Muslims are enslaving thousands of Christians and animists [those who practice native African religions] in Sudan even today. You experienced this reality firsthand and can testify to it, since as a child of nine, you were abducted and enslaved. Can you tell me how you were captured?

SD: In 1968, my father decided to take his family to stay in the city of Malaka, in Southern Sudan. He-this man who tricked me and took me into slavery-was in Malaka. His sister was a neighbor to us…He was there for a month and was on his way to the North [Muslim part of Sudan]. He …asked me to help him with his luggage. He was a neighbor. He took me to a boat and told me to sit next to his luggage because he has to go to the market and buy things and he will come back.

HR: Was he an Arab?

SD: Yes, he was.

HR: But, even knowing that the [Arab Muslim] North was at war with the black Christians and animists in the South, you still were not afraid of him?

SD: We were not in a place of war. The war was being carried out in the villages, and this is a town. But the war was being conducted in every single village in the Southern Sudan. Killing and slaughter was taking place outside the town…there [was] also killing within the cities by the government but not to compare [to the amount taking place in the villages].

(According to Deng, between 1955 and 1972, one and a half million Sudanese Christians and animists were killed by the Islamist government of Sudan. From the early 1980’s until 2005, 2 million South Sudanese were killed through violence and the withholding of food aid. Thousands were enslaved.)

HR: At that time, did you hear that black Africans were being enslaved by Arab Muslims in Sudan? I’m just surprised you were not suspicious.

SD: I had not heard of it at the time, no…so I was not [suspicious] … The man didn’t come back immediately. What happened was, probably, he didn’t go to the market. Because when the boat started moving, when I started crying, he immediately came to tell me not to cry. To convince me the boat has left, there’s no way to stop so I can get out. The only way is to go to the last stop, a city in the North, Kosti. And he will put me on the next boat coming back to the South.

He is the only person I know in hundreds on that boat. I have to believe everything he says.

When we arrive in Kosti it turns out he has three other kids that I didn’t know. They were on the boat [with him] too, probably from other cities. We got off together with this man in front…Probably he was tricking these kids [into slavery] the way he tricked me.

Before we left Kosti for the village, he got rid of two kids. What happened to them, I don’t know. He sold them, I don’t know. He gave them away, I don’t know. I was just carrying [in my mind] what he told me, that he’ll put me on the next boat so I can go back to the Southern Sudan.

HR: Were these also Southern Sudanese Christian children?

SD: Yes, All Sudanese Christian kids. So, there is one other boy with us. It is two hours drive or maybe an hour. Everybody is happy when we arrive. This man came from the South and most important, he brought two slaves. I didn’t know what the word is then, what is a slave.

The following morning there is a dispute, who is going to take the bigger kid? The other boy was bigger than me, by two years, I guess. Nobody wanted to take me because probably they knew what a slave will be doing, so they need somebody with physical ability, and I was a young child. I end up being given to a family, not a large family. I ask them where is Abulay? [the man who had kidnapped him but promised to return him to the South]. I was still [clinging to] this hope in my mind, you see. I was told I should not ask about him because I had been given to them by him – as a gift.

What came to my mind was, No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Because I could not believe what I heard.

So for them to calm me down, they had to beat me down.

But nobody there had sympathy…nobody had any remorse that a child is crying. To them I’m not a child…I came to know three and a half years of captivity…Understand that, from a very loved child of my Mom and Dad, I became a piece of property…

Somebody may decide whether I get to go to sleep or not, whether I get to eat or not…if there is any leftovers, that is my food. I don’t have a regular place to sleep as a human being. My place can be anywhere, even the place where they keep the animals …I have to make sure this place is clean, because it is my duty to do all the domestic jobs.

I am nine years old.

Somebody may decide to say, "I called you and you did not say ‘yes,’ so loud." That’s all it takes for me to be beaten. In other words, I know only one word, and that word is yes, and yes to everything. People have to understand that, anyone who is put in a position where he or she can’t say "no" and can only say "yes" must even say "yes" to being violated. There are very difficult parts [to remember] … very difficult… that’s why people have to close their eyes and even for one minute put yourself in a position where you cannot say "no."

In their eyes, I am a slave, not a human being, not a child.

HR: You’ve spoken about how they offered you an option to be treated better?

SD: Yes. To convert to Islam and become their "son."

HR: Do you feel they would have treated you with more kindness, decency, or respect had you converted to Islam? Were they better towards Sudanese who converted to Islam?

SD: At that time, those [blacks] who happened to be Muslim were being treated better, even though not as well as Arabs. But [those blacks who converted to Islam were treated] fifty times better than an ‘infidel’. For instance, if you acted like them and became a Muslim, you could share food with them, [not just leftovers].

HR: It is amazing you remained a Christian throughout your ordeal. I’m surprised they did not just grab you and say, "You’re Muslim now."

SD: In this one way, believe it or not, the mother [of the family] was nice to me because there were…neighbors angry they did not force me into Islam, even to the point there were those willing to buy me from them so they could convert me to Islam.

HR: Curious, despite the way they treated you, that they did not forcibly convert you.

SD: I look back now, the woman did protect me from the others who were worse. She would say [when the subject of his religion came up], ‘Don’t rush–‘

HR: It’s striking that in this one matter, religion, they seemed to have some respect for your choice.

SD: They did not look at it as a choice. They looked at it like, eventually their wish will become reality.

HR: Do you believe the way they dealt with the issue of your religion has something to do with the culture of radical Islam? In other words, was it part of their ideology to break your spirit first, so in their minds, they could believe they were giving you the "choice" to become a Muslim, when of course in reality it was not a real choice?

SD: This is my story and what I went through. I would not speak so generally. But I will say, after I got out of slavery and looked back to where my dehumanization took place at the hands of the Muslims, I saw I was not alone. There are thousands of South Sudanese who went through what I went through. There were those that took the option to convert to Islam. And if you go to Sudan today you’ll be shocked to see South Sudanese who look like [me] with shilluk tribal mark … but [who] took the option to convert and get an Arab name. Some of them are even leaders in Sudan, in the North, being used by the North as footsoldiers [in the war to Islamicize the South].

 

In segment II of the interview, Simon Deng discusses his escape from slavery, the plight of Christian and animist South Sudanese today, the condition of South Sudanese Christians in Israel, and his high hopes for South Sudanese independence in 2011.

 

Obama dithered for nearly three days on pirates

Piracy on the high seas has been a military issue for the United States since the founding of the Republic. President Thomas Jefferson waged our first foreign war to fight Islamic pirates in the Mediterranean.

So why did President Barack Obama dither full-speed ahead, with the FBI impounding the pirated Maersk Alabama as a "crime scene"?

White House spin, being headlined in the press, is that President Barack Obama "twice approved force" to rescue Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates.

What isn’t making the headlines is that Obama flailed and dithered for nearly three days before first approving force.

The British Guardian newspaper reports that the pirates had taken the Maersk Alabama at 5:30 AM British time on Wednesday. That is 7:30 AM Mogadishu time, or 12:30 AM Wednesday in Washington, DC. Somalia is seven hours ahead of Washington DC.

The Navy moved immediately. The nearest warship, the USS Bainbridge, steamed 300 miles and reached the Maersk Alabama in about 20 hours, at 3:00 AM Mogadishu time on Thursday, April 9.

A White House chronology shows that Obama did not authorize the use of force to save the freighter captain until 8:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time on Friday. That’s 3:00 AM Mogadishu time on Saturday, a full 48 hours after the Bainbridge reached the vessel.

More than 67 hours. Nearly three days. Even then, it was a limited order. Obama reconsidered, and issued broader orders at about 9:20 on Saturday morning, roughly 80 hours into the crisis.

Pretty slow decision-making in a life-or-death situation. Slow to order action to save an American citizen’s life. Slow to respond to a terrorist attack on an unarmed American vessel.

Weak.

Some news reports say that the Pentagon had to urge Obama twice to make a decision. Other reports say that Obama authorized the use of deadly force only if Phillips’ life was in imminent danger. If true, they show that the administration doesn’t understand how to send the right message to the Islamist pirates in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

A Maersk Alabama crewman said after news of Captain Phillips’ rescue that the US shouldn’t have allowed the pirates to threaten American shipping in the first place: "Tell the president to get these guys. It shouldn’t come to that."

The US Navy was ready before the word "go." The sailors performed flawlessly, saving Phillips’ life and Obama’s credibility. Hopefully the president has learned a lesson.

 

Mike Waller blogs at Politicalwarfare.org

 

House Democrats cut aid to Africa by 60%; Where is Obama?

Top Democrats praise the success of George Bush’s Millennium Challenge Corporation while quietly allowing congress to gut the funding of the United States most successful aid program since the Marshall Plan. 

"President Elect Obama supports the MCC, and the principle of greater accountability in our foreign assistance programs. It represents a worthy new approach to poverty reduction and combating corruption…The Obama Administration looks forward to working to build on the promise of the MCC as we move forward with modernizing U.S. foreign assistance programs." –Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response to a question for the record from Senator John Kerry during her confirmation hearing January 13, 2009- 1]

Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton made that statement two months ago. 

The 2009 summary of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill shows a 60% decrease ($1.35 billion) from former President George Bush’s request for $2.225 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account and a 42% cut from its 2008 level.[2]  To be clear, a 60%, $1.35 billion dollar cut is not "building on a promise." 

The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer Rodney Bent had this to say, "The FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriation Act would substantially reduce MCC funding from last year’s level of $1.5 billion to $875 million. This level of funding will be a disappointment to those countries that are in various stages of negotiation with MCC about potential projects to reduce poverty. These countries have more than 200 million citizens that live on less than $2 a day."[3] 

Statements in House and Senate committee reports recognize "the significant efforts countries seeking compacts have undertaken to improve governance, invest in health and education, and support economic reforms, and encourages countries to continue these efforts."[4]  Despite the well known successes of Millennium Challenge Account, the giant cut is justified by citing some bureaucratic problems with the timing of disbursements and some accounting problems.  Yet, they fail to explain how a program that has been distinctly successful in promoting civil society, fiscal responsibility, and good governance abroad where other aid programs fail deserves such drastic truncation.

This cut flies in the face of recommendations made by economists at the Brookings Institution.  According to executive summary of Lex Rieffel, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development, "The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is one of the outstanding innovations of the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. No other aid agency-foreign or domestic-can match its purposeful mandate, its operational flexibility and its potential muscle."[5]  Reiffel’s analysis addresses legitimate kinks in the MCC method that were missed by congress but ultimately suggests an increase in funding to $3 billion.  This acknowledgement of MCCs’ success comes from a well respected think tank among Democrats and shows that in addition to politicians, there are real experts who understand the uniqueness of the MCC.  Rieffel refers to the "MCC effect" in his executive summary where there is action in governments and pressure from grass roots that cause genuine reform in recipient countries before money is disbursed.  So, to cite impatience for the disbursement of appropriated funds is to argue that it is the function of congress to spend money quickly with no purpose.

 

The MCC vs. China and Iran 

Africa is a major front in the struggle against Islamic extremism and totalitarian influence.  The American media has utterly failed to report that this is the view China, Iran, and the major terror networks such as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda have of the continent.  By both statements and actions, aggressive campaigns by China, Iran and the terrorist networks show a desire to exert influence and exploit resources in Africa.  Just this year Iranian president has visited three African states including Kenya, Comoros, and Djibouti.  In January, the Defense Minister of Tanzania traveled to Tehran to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on defense cooperation with his Iranian counter part.  China has several state corporations who continuously scour the continent looking to buy up African energy.  According to Reuters UK, "China’s state-owned energy firms have spent years hunting for deals to satisfy growing oil demand back home, scooping up assets in Africa, the Middle East, South America and Canada. Outbound energy deals are expected to accelerate in 2009."[6]  Though currently eyeing deals in Libya and Ghana, China already buys two thirds of Sudan’s oil which makes up 70% of Sudan’s global exports.  China is also a major arms exporter to the Sudanese government and its militias along with Russia.

China and Iran pour billions in influence into the continent each year without regard to the behavior of their benefactors concerning human rights or good governance.  All the while, Hezbollah is raising millions each year in the trade of conflict diamonds while Al-Qaeda strengthens ties with militant Algerian Islamists who now call themselves Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb.  This is a woefully abbreviated list of what we are up against.  The freedom and wellbeing of millions are at stake.  This is the time and the place for the United States to show leadership and resolve in its foreign policy.  Yet, from congress, we see incompetence and from the White House, no more than lip service.

  Nicholas Hanlon is a foreign affairs writer and researcher at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Georgia State University and has a BA in Political Science with a concentration in International Affairs and a Minor in French.


[1] Millennium Challenge Corporation Fact Sheet January 30, 2009

[2] COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS SUMMARY: 2009 STATE AND FOREIGN OPERATIONS APPROPRIATIONS CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS BILL

[3] Rodney Bent CEO Statement on Proposed FY 2009 Funding for MCC February 25, 2009, Millennium Challenge Corporation

[4] Senate Report 110-425 – DEPARTMENT OF STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2009

[5] Lex Reiffel Strengthen the Millennium Challenge Corporation: Better Results are Possible December 2008, Brookings Policy Brief Series | # 167

[6] Editing by Ian Geoghegan China oil majors covet Africa-focused Tullow Oil Wed March 4, 2009

Sudan, terror & jihad

Though it has received a great deal of attention in the media and from Hollywood celebrities, the issue of Sudan is not entirely clear to many Americans. Many do not realize how Sudan is ruled and the nation’s role in Jihadist terrorism. 

Over the past few years, the Islamic Republic of Sudan has been justifiably targeted by a grassroots divestment movement for the genocide that it has committed against its own people.

Unlike famine and drought, genocide does not simply happen due to forces of nature. Genocide is committed.

And it is no accident that the regime which has committed this genocide is also on the US government’s list of terrorist-sponsoring nations and is thus under US economic and political sanctions.

Sudan has committed genocide over a period of many years in an effort by the Islamist government in Khartoum to impose Shariah (a brutal theo-legal-political system practiced in the Islamic world) on its entire population.

Genocide first occurred in southern Sudan over a period of years in which the Arab Islamist government systematically killed hundreds of thousands of innocent black Christian and animist civilians. There are documented cases in which hundreds of defenseless civilians lined up at aid stations operated by international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were gunned down by Sudanese Air Force helicopter gunships.

More recently, the genocidal Arab Islamist regime has turned its sights on fellow Muslims-non-Arab blacks-in the Darfur region. These black Muslims do not subscribe to the same brand of militant Islam that the Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Arab Islamist regime subscribes to, thus they are being attacked in a manner similar to that which occurred in the south of Sudan.

Many Americans are asking, "There are brutal regimes in many areas of the world. Why should I care particularly about Sudan?"

The answer is that Sudan is a terrorist-sponsoring nation that has been involved with terrorist groups that have killed Americans.

Sudan is ruled by a Jihadist regime that has hosted Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas and allowed those terrorist groups to train and recruit within Sudan’s borders. Sudan has been on the US government’s list of terrorist-sponsoring nations since 1993 and the United Nations imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1996 due to it allowing terrorist groups to operate from its territory.

 

Sudan and Al Qaeda

Sudan hosted Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda from 1991 to 1996. It is now known that Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were involved in attacks on US peacekeeping troops in Somalia in 1993 and that these attacks were coordinated from Bin Laden’s base of operations in nearby Sudan.

Though Bin Laden was deposed from Sudan in 1996 under US and Saudi pressure, there is evidence that Al Qaeda was still at work in Sudan after Bin Laden’s departure. In March 2006, United Nations envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, reported that Al Qaeda was "entrenched" in Sudan.

But the most stark indication of Sudanese sponsorship of Al Qaeda involves the murder of Americans.

On October 12, 2000, Al Qaeda attacked the US Navy destroyer USS Cole in a suicide bomb attack in Aden harbor in Yemen.   Seventeen American sailors were killed in the attack and 39 others wounded.

On March 14, 2007, US Federal Judge Robert Doumar ruled in a lawsuit filed by the families of the dead sailors that the Sudanese government was liable for the bombing as the attack was planned in Sudan and the plotters trained and transited from there. On July 25, 2007, Judge Doumar ordered the Sudanese government to pay the families the sum of $8 million.

 

Sudan and Hezbollah

Hezbollah, or Party of God, is the Iranian-backed Jihadist terrorist organization that bombed the US embassy annex and the US Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983. 241 American servicemen were killed in the Marine Barracks attack alone.

Sudan has harbored Hezbollah terrorists and allowed the organization to operate training camps inside of its territory.

Sudan hosted a meeting of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah leaders in 1994 which resulted in a cooperative training agreement between these two deadly Jihadist terrorist groups in which Hezbollah trained Al Qaeda operatives in explosives.

 

Sudan and Hamas

Hamas is the violent Jihadist Palestinian terrorist organization that seeks to push Israeli Jews into the sea and replace Israel with an Islamist theocracy along the lines of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The Sudanese regime has openly declared its support for Hamas and has harbored Hamas terrorists within its borders. In fact, Hamas has a business infrastructure in Sudan to support its operations and has nearly the equivalent of diplomatic facilities there.

 

Sudan and Iran

Sudan’s partner in terror is Iran, though Iran is Shiite and Sudan’s regime is Sunni, with its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood. Sudan is one of the few nations on earth, besides Syria and Venezuela, that has openly aligned itself with Iran.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have operated terrorist training camps in Sudan for years and Sudan and Iran have entered into significant agreements that indicate cooperation on Jihadist terrorism.

In January 2007, Iran and Sudan exchanged military delegations in which it was formally announced that Iran had offered to help train the Sudanese military to quell violence in Darfur. At the outset of the exchange, both delegations indicated that Iran and Sudan would expand military cooperation and Sudan expressed interest in Iranian-made weaponry, including missiles. At the end of the exchange, both sides agreed to "exchange expert delegations" on a regular basis to promote "mutual technical and educational cooperation" on military matters.

 

Conclusion

Sudan’s genocide in Darfur is a humanitarian atrocity that is deserving of condemnation in as many ways as possible. Moreover, it must be recognized that this genocide is born from the militant Jihadist doctrine that underpins the regime in Khartoum and compels it to sponsor the terrorist groups who are America’s enemies in the war on terror.

 

A stimulus for African security

The most recent iteration of the National Security Strategy of the United States of America, released in March 2006, declared:

Africa holds growing geo-strategic importance and is a high priority … It is a place of promise and opportunity, linked to the United States by history, culture, commerce, and strategic significance. Our goal is an African continent that knows liberty, peace, stability, and increasing prosperity … The United States recognizes that our security depends upon partnering with Africans to strengthen fragile and failing states and bring ungoverned areas under the control of effective democracies … We are committed to working with African nations to strengthen their domestic capabilities and the regional capacity of the AU to support post-conflict transformations, consolidate democratic transitions, and improve peacekeeping and disaster responses.

The mission statement approved by the Secretary of Defense in May 2008 for the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) states that:

The United States Africa Command, in concert with other U.S. government agencies and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement through military-to-military programs, military-sponsored activities, and other military operations as directed to promote a stable and secure African environment in support of U.S. foreign policy.

Last week, Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs, in the course of remarks on U.S. policy in Africa inserted into the Congressional Record, noted:

I was reminded … of the very important and strategic roles that AFRICOM, if advanced properly, can play. These roles include helping to develop effective, well-disciplined militaries that adhere to civilian rule, strengthening regional peacekeeping missions, and supporting postconflict demobilization and disarmament processes. If carried out properly, AFRICOM’s work can complement that of the State Department, USAID, and other U.S. Government agencies working on the continent and help contribute to lasting peace and stability across Africa.

Taken together, these three statements underscore the fact that the advancement of American national interests in Africa requires a recommitment to strengthening and expanding of U.S. security cooperation with the nations of the continent.

Security cooperation, that is, military engagement outside wartime, is hardly a new concept. During the Cold War, these activities were focused on building the relations that were not only successful in containing the spread of the Soviet empire, but ultimately in bringing about its fall. In the wake of the collapse of the Iron Curtain, military engagement activities played a significant role in integrating the newly freed states of Central and Eastern Europe into the North Atlantic community. Nowadays, security cooperation is codified in the joint doctrine of the U.S. armed forces and defined by Joint Publication 5-0: Joint Operation Planning (2006) as "the means by which Department of Defense (DoD) encourages and enables countries and organizations to work with us to achieve strategic objectives" and by the most recent version of Joint Publication 3-0: Joint Operations (2008) as "all DoD interactions with foreign defense establishments to build defense relationshipsthat promote specific U.S. security interests, develop allied and friendly military capabilities for self-defense and multinational operations, and provide U.S. forces with peacetime and contingency access to a host nation." The latter document also affirmed that "security cooperation is a key element of global and theater shaping operations," which, in Pentagon-speak, would make security cooperation a large part of "Phase 0" of any U.S. campaign, a stage that as General Charles Wald, then deputy commander of the European Command (EUCOM), noted in one Joint Force Quarterly article, includes "everything that can be done to prevent conflicts from developing in the first place," the goal being to "promote stability and peace by building capacity in partner nations that enables them to be cooperative, trained, and prepared to help prevent or limit conflicts."

While some of the security cooperation efforts undertaken with allies and potential partners are carried out directly by active duty U.S. armed forces personnel, reserve and National Guard components also play an important role. For example, beginning in 1993 in the wake of the liberation of the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, the State Partnership Program (SPP) helped shape the strategic environment after the departure of the Red Army by partnering Army National Guard units with militaries in participating countries in a variety of activities in support of broad bilateral goals, including military-to-military subject matter expert exchange, disaster planning and response, environmental protection, and provincial- and city-level contacts. Currently, more than fifty countries are linked to forty-six states, two territories (Puerto Rico and Guam, and the District of Columbia. In Africa, Ghana is paired with North Dakota, Morocco with Utah, South Africa with New York, and Tunisia with Wyoming.

Moreover, it goes without saying that, given the stresses of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as fidelity to the Quadrennial Defense Review (2006) directive to integrate them into the "Total Force," civilian government personnel and contractors also make significant contributions, especially in training and equipment, but also in humanitarian responses, post-conflict reconstruction, and new infrastructure building – the latter all roles which the market-driven private sector may be better positioned to do well than government bureaucracies. (See my previous discussion on "Total Force" in the AFRICOM context.)

Generally speaking the six geographical combatant commands (COCOMs) are required by two still-classified Security Cooperation Guidance directives from the Secretary of Defense to develop and submit for approval annual security cooperation plans for their respective theaters which would link bilateral and multilateral defense activities to U.S. security interests identified by theme and objective (AFRICOM is, in fact, holding its annual capstone Theater Security Cooperation Working Group conference this week in Garmisch, Germany, an event that brings together hundreds of officials representing about a dozen U.S. government and international agencies to develop a plan of projects and programs which are synchronized with the strategic plans which U.S. embassies develop for each partner state). In Africa, for example, it would not be hard to imagine that the broader approach to security cooperation includes two programs which have shown themselves to be not only meet strategic objectives of a more immediate nature like countering terrorist activity and "showing the flag," but also building relations over the longer term, are the Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara (OES-TS) military support for the State Department-administered Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Program (TSCTP) and the Africa Partnership Station (see, respectively, my reports last year on U.S. security engagements in the Maghreb and maritime security efforts) as well as the ongoing activities of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), based at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti.

Despite the success of initiatives like OEF-TS, Africa Partnership Station (APS), and CJTF-HOA – kicking off the 2009 APS deployment, the Austin-class amphibious transport dock USS Nashville arrived Tuesday in Dakar, Senegal, beginning a mission that will also include port calls in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Gabon for training, professional military exchanges, and humanitarian and civic outreach – security cooperation within AFRICOM’s area of responsibility (AOR) still faces a number of challenges, some of which are common to the other five regional commands, while others are unique to the African context.

Despite being mandated to plan and carry out security cooperation in their respective AORs, the COCOM commanders both lack sufficient dedicated resources to implement their security cooperation strategies in a coherent manner and, when attempting to manage as they can, often find themselves confronted with a bewildering array of legislative, policy, and bureaucratic hurdles. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee three years ago in his then-capacity as the head of EUCOM and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Marine Corps General James L. Jones, currently President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor, lamented:

There are as many as thirty sources of funding which emanate primarily from the Department of Defense and the Department of State – and which are regulated by various, often times competing, authorities and guidelines. Although the Unified Command Plan establishes the authority of the Geographic Combatant Commander (GCC) to plan and conduct security cooperation activities within an assigned area of responsibility, there are a number of programs or activities over which the GCC has no influence.

The general might have added that even within single government agencies, security cooperation programs face significant hurdles. Sales of defense equipment and technology to allies, for example, are acknowledged as extraordinarily good policy. In addition to reinforcing existing partnerships and improving interoperability between the U.S. military and its professional counterparts, the economies of scale created by these transactions help the American economy in general and our defense industries in particular, while simultaneously indirectly subsidizing the research and development efforts critical to maintaining our technological edge in the years to come: simply put, the more units of something that are sold, the lower the marginal costs. Yet, as retired U.S. Navy Captain Sam Tangredi, author of Futures of War and other strategy texts, noted in a recent Defense News article:

Even within DoD itself, Foreign Military Sales programs are subject to approval by up to five technology-transfer committees, each of which operates on its own schedule. After DoD, the State Department must approve and Congress must be briefed. For a major weapon system sale to a critical non-NATO ally (and sometimes to a NATO ally) to be fully approved within two years is almost a miracle.

Efforts to build security partnerships with African nations bring additional challenges. The starting point of many African countries insofar as security capabilities are concerned, is relatively low. Moreover, with the exception of the continent’s handful of natural resource-rich, low population-density countries like Angola (see my September 9, 2008 column advocating an intensified strategic engagement with the geopolitically significant Southern African country), most of America’s would-be partners are constrained by lack of the financial wherewithal to upgrade their capabilities to meet even short-term priorities. It is a vicious cycle in which many are trapped: security is a prerequisite for development and development is a preventative for insecurity, yet these states lack the basic means to pay for the security that would facilitate the stability and economic growth that would, in turn, generate the revenues for the governments. Furthermore, lest anyone simplistically respond that Africans just emerging from conflicts need peacebuilding, not the accoutrements of armed security, it is worth recalling that acclaimed development economist Paul Collier and his colleague Anke Hoeffler found in their study on Military Expenditure in Post-Conflict Society that in the first five years after a peace agreement a given country’s estimated risk of renewed conflict is about 44 percent. Interpreted bluntly, this means that governments need to consolidate Max Weber’s "state monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force" (Gewaltmonopol des Staates). In addition, the current global economic crisis is not without its effect on African security, as non-African states pull out of peacekeeping missions on the continent in an effort to cut costs: for example, just last Saturday Poland became the latest such country when Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that in the next few months he would pull the 400-strong Polish contingent, the second-largest in Chad, from the European Union Force helping protect civilians and humanitarian workers in that country and the Central African Republic (EUFOR Tchad/CAR).

Of course, a variety of programs exist to "jump start" America’s potential partners when they lack resources on their own, including Foreign Military Financing (FMF), administered by the Office of Policy Plans and Analysis within State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, provides grants for the acquisition of U.S. defense equipment, services and training, with an emphasis on promoting U.S. national security by contributing to regional and global stability, strengthening military support for democratically-elected governments, and containing transnational threats including terrorism and trafficking in narcotics, weapons, and persons; Section 1206 funds (named for the apposite section in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006), which allow the Secretary of Defense to train and equip foreign military and maritime security forces to carry out counterterrorism actions and to support military and stability operations in which U.S. armed forces might participate; and the Section 1207 authority for the Pentagon to transfer to the State Department up to $100 million per fiscal year in dense articles, services, and other support for reconstruction, stabilization, and security activities coordinated by the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS). Nonetheless, despite the fact that the Section 1206 money has allowed COCOMs to move quicker in building up partner capacity and the Section 1207 authority has, according to a U.S. Institute of Peace special report last year by Robert Perito, helped to "jump start the S/CRS by providing authorization and funding for projects that would involve interagency coordina tion," neither is supported by specifically appropriated funds, thus implementation of approved initiatives remain subject to whether or not money is ultimately determined to be actually available within the overall Defense Department budget to be shifted toward the programs. Moreover, authority for Section 1206 is set to expire in FY 2011 while that for Section 1207 was extended last year for one fiscal year and will expire September 30 of this year (in testimony last April before the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had noted that the Departments of State and Defense were in agreement that Section 1207 authority should be increased to $200 million per year and extended for at least five fiscal years); both provisions need to be made permanent.

Taking a look at Africa, however, it is hard to say that budgetary provision for security cooperation aside from obligatory contributions to the United Nations for peacekeeping operations has kept pace with the continent’s growing strategic importance to the United States. Aside from Egypt (which comes within the mandate of CENTCOM), the fifty-two other African countries in received just $17.435 million out of the $4.45 billion available for FMF in FY 2008 – barely three-tenths of one percent of the total. In FY 2009, assuming Congress fully funds the $4.812 billion requested in the FY 2009 international affairs budget, just nine countries in AFRICOM’s AOR – the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, and Nigeria – are slated to benefit from FMF funds, sharing a pool of just over $16.5 million. As for Section 1606 funds, $67.9 million was obligated to African programming in FY 2008 (out of a total of just under the statutory limit of $300 million), most of which went either to enhancing counterterrorism capabilities in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Tunisia or to maritime security efforts in Gulf of Guinea. As for Section 1207 transfers, of the $100 million to fund seven programs in FY 2008, just one, a $9.1 million initiative to reinforce the authority of the central government in the DRC (see my report last week on developments in that sorry land and its benighted regime), went to Africa.

Where there has been money available, it has been used to good effect. The Horn of Africa republic of Djibouti, for example, received modest FMF funding of $3.8 million and $1.9 million in FY 2007 and FY 2008, respectively. In the former year, it also received about $8 million in Section 1206 funding for maritime domain awareness (MDA) projects, in addition to much more modest assistance it received under multilateral and bilateral programming like the State Department-administered East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative (EACTI) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, respectively. Given that, in addition to hosting America’s only permanent military installation in Africa, CJTF-HOA’s Camp Lemonier, Djibouti sits astride the vital Bab-el-Mandab straits – 2-mile-wide Bab Iskender and 16-mile-wide Dact-el-Mayun, connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden – through which nearly 10 percent of the world’s petroleum production passes each day and that Somali pirates are still active nearby notwithstanding the increased presence of naval vessels from a number of countries (the election last month of Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, a wealthy businessman who is believed by a number of intelligence services to enjoy a close relationship with the pirate crews operating out of Eyl, as the president of the semi-autonomous Puntland region is hardly an auspicious start to the year), the assistance enabled the Djiboutians to effectively multiply their maritime capacity several times over by acquiring four 44-foot patrol boats equipped with global positioning system (GPS) and other modern naval systems. With these new capabilities, Djibouti, whose port is also fast becoming a regional hub for containerization of cargo traffic between Europe, Africa, and Asia, can contribute its part to both regional security and U.S. interests, as underscored by the affirmation of the National Strategy for Maritime Security (2005) that "Assisting regional partners to maintain the maritime sovereignty of their territorial seas and internal waters is a longstanding objective of the United States and contributes directly to the partners’ economic development as well as their ability to combat unlawful or hostile exploitation by a variety of threats."

As the United States undertakes a major strategic shift towards Africa and as America’s first president of African descent settles into his third week in the White House amid a severe economic crisis, there may indeed be an opportunity to be discerned in the confluence of developments. As I noted in this column two weeks ago on the morrow of President Obama’s inauguration, "the wave of enthusiasm for the new president and, consequently, for America in general which has swept across the continent gives the forty-fourth president an unprecedented opportunity to not only secure key U.S. interests in Africa." By more generously allocating political and financial resources to security cooperation programs in general and those under the aegis of AFRICOM in particular (recall that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense has slashed the new regional command’s requested FY 2009 budget by nearly one-third), President Obama now has a chance to simultaneously help America’s African friends begin achieving their own security objectives, enhance the U.S. military’s professional relationships and potential interoperability with these new partner states, and frustrate the efforts by other powers like China and Russia to reduce our influence through the indiscriminate sale of their arms cross the continent – all the while strengthening the domestic security industrial sector, reducing the cost of future defense acquisitions, and securing business for U.S. firms and creating jobs for American workers. Now that is the type of strategic stimulus we can all get behind.

— J. Peter Pham is Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C., as well as Vice President of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA). In addition to the study of terrorism and political violence, his research interests lie at the intersection of international relations, international law, political theory, and ethics, with particular concentrations on the implications for United States foreign policy and African states as well as religion and global politics.

Dr. Pham is the author of over two hundred essays and reviews on a wide variety of subjects in scholarly and opinion journals on both sides of the Atlantic and the author, editor, or translator of over a dozen books. Among his recent publications are Liberia: Portrait of a Failed State (Reed Press, 2004), which has been critically acclaimed by Foreign Affairs, Worldview, Wilson Quarterly, American Foreign Policy Interests, and other scholarly publications, and Child Soldiers, Adult Interests: The Global Dimensions of the Sierra Leonean Tragedy (Nova Science Publishers, 2005).

In addition to serving on the boards of several international and national think tanks and journals, Dr. Pham has testified before the U.S. Congress and conducted briefings or consulted for both Congressional and Executive agencies. He is also a frequent contributor to National Review Online’s military blog, The Tank.

© 2009 J. Peter Pham

Nigeria in flux

By Matthew Seitz

In April 2007, for the first time in the country’s history, Nigeria witnessed a peaceful transition from one civilian presidency to another. Past president Olusegun Obasanjo is the first Nigerian head of state to hand over power at the end of his constitutional mandate to the newly democratically elected president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Although the transfer of power went smoothly, the country is still plagued with political instability, conflict over oil wealth, and ethnic tension.

While Yar’Adua was the declared winner in the April election, he is hardly described as "democratically elected." Many Nigerian civil society organizations as well as international observers have unanimously deplored the massive rigging and poor organization of the election. The Carter Center judged that the voting in just two of Nigeria’s thirty-six states can be considered as "free and fair." As Obasanjo’s "hand-picked hair," Yar’Adua will be entering a crisis of legitimacy that will have a great impact on all areas of the country and government. In order to provide an air of legitimacy for his administration, Yar’Adua must get a handle on current conflicts and simmering tensions located throughout the country.

The first issue that will test the effectiveness of the administration is the crisis in the Niger Delta. Extensive corruption by the government has left this oil-rich region impoverished. Most of the citizens in the Delta states are living on less than $1 per day. Although the government has vowed to pay the Delta states a royalty of 12% on all oil and natural gas extracted, corrupt local officials continue to line their own pockets. In response to the lack of investment by the government, pollution from oil companies, and the corruption of local officials, citizens in the Delta states have taken up arms and have moved from peaceful protests to armed kidnapping and sabotage.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is an insurgent group that demands compensation from petroleum companies for the pollution and deaths they have caused. The majority of citizens in the Delta states are fishers and farmers.   Due to oil spills in the area, soil and water has become contaminated and the locals have been left without jobs. If Yar’Adua wants to continue Obasanjo’s mission to increase the economy while decreasing the violence, he will have to arrange peace talks between the militant groups from the Delta, the oil companies, and the Nigerian government. This might be possible considering that unlike his predecessor, Yar’Adua has the temperament to make as much concession as is reasonable and necessary to accommodate the opposition. Heavy investment into the Delta from the oil companies and the government will offer jobs to the unemployed, education to the children, clinics to the sick, increase the standard of living, and help stem the violence and corruption that currently plagues the region.

Political instability and corruption is a trend the Nigerian government is trying to address. It is this same corruption and instability that led twelve northern states (with a Muslim majority) to adopt strict Islamic law known as Sharia’ah. Sharia’ah critically undercuts basic internationally- guaranteed freedoms that include freedom of religion and freedom of expression. The Nigerian constitution calls for due process of law and equality among men and women, both of which are often not upheld in states where Sharia’ah has been implemented. While President Obasanjo was in office, he preferred not to contend with the Sharia’ah issue. Yar’Adua unfortunately will not have that luxury and will have to address this issue directly if he wants to start establishing peace and security in his failing state.

The use of Sharia’ah law in the north has also provided a base for radical Sunni Muslim agents from Saudi Arabia and other middle eastern countries. From 2001 to the present, "scores of Pakistanis" have been charged and arrested with inciting violence and a group calling itself the "Taliban" was started in the northern frontier state of Yobe. The ethnic tension between the northern Muslim states and the southern Christian states are directly related to the use of Sharia’ah in the north. The Christian minority in the north is forced to follow and accept Shari’ah, which has led to riots between Muslims and Christians throughout the country leaving thousands dead.

In order to stop the spread of Muslim extremism and to help put an end to the ongoing ethnic conflict between the north and the south, Yar’Adua must end the use of Sharia’ah in the northern Islamic states. Considering half the population of Nigeria is Muslim, removing Sharia’ah law in the north will be no easy task. It will take patience from the President and restraint in the use of force on the part of the police and military. The most important thing to remember in dealing with Sharia’ah law and the Muslim states in the north is to maintain and follow the rule of law, not the rule of force. As long as the rule of law is followed, legitimacy for the government and the Yar’Adua administration may follow.

The task ahead for Nigeria’s new president is enormous, but the foundation for success is within reach. Systemic corruption is what led the country to the failing state that we see today. Putting an end to corruption should be Yar’Adua’s first priority, everything else will follow. Let’s just hope Yar’Adua cares for his country more than himself.

Matthew Seitz is an intern at the Center for Security Policy and an MS candidate in Missouri State’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies.

AFRICOM proceeds apace

By Colin Crowley

Recently, the United States military announced a new addition to its cyber library: www.eucom.mil/africom, the web address of the developing military command for Africa, dubbed AFRICOM.  Among its other attributes, the website provides answers to 19 questions about the planned U.S. presence in Africa that are frequently asked by a curious public, each answer intended to assure readers that this recent move by Uncle Sam is both noble and crucial.  With this website’s launch reminding the public that AFRICOM is in the pipelines, it is appropriate to review the upcoming African Command, its importantance to our victory against terrorism, and how its initiation is progressing.

President Bush announced the creation of AFRICOM in February of 2007.  In its absence, military responsibilities for Africa remain split between CENTCOM, EUCOM, and PACOM. The new AFRICOM – slated to initiate in October, 2007 under EUCOM tutelage and in October, 2008 as a self-standing entity – would geographically include all of Africa, except for Egypt, and would incorporate a "combatant command plus" strategy, whereby soft-power security means would dominate over hard-power methods. Specifically, AFRICOM would consist of both civilian and military personnel working together to provide targeted military assistance to African troops, train African militaries in security/stability operations and human rights norms, and provide timely humanitarian and stability assistance during political, military, social, and ecological crises.

Without a doubt, AFRICOM is an essential reform in our global military command structure. For too long, Africa has been at the fringes of US security policy, barely in our national security purview. However, the 2006 National Security Strategy made that Africa a "high priority" for the U.S.  Indeed, the new African Command is necessary for several reasons.

First, we are increasingly dependent on Africa for our energy needs (especially oil). Currently, Africa is our largest supplier of crude, outstripping even the Middle East. Indeed, Nigeria is our fifth largest oil resource. Instability in the Niger Delta alone last year reduced Nigerian supply by 25%. Helping secure Africa from turmoil would go a long way toward opening up a non-terrorist-funding oil supply chain on our way to a more ecologically-savvy future.

Second, the African coast is a volatile region of smuggling largely un-policed by African governments that are too corrupt and/or chaotic to manage their own maritime security without outside assistance. AFRICOM and its military training would be able to help secure the African continent’s borders from attack and infiltration by terrorists who use the ocean as a yellow-brick road to jihad. Furthermore, policing the African coast helps protect those offshore oil production facilities at risk from interference by those selfsame sea-faring Sunni and Shia.

Third, the failed states in Africa and the oxymoronic governments in many African nations create serious politico-military vacuums that terrorists groups can fill and exploit for nefarious ends. Indeed, Islamofascist terrorism has been on the rise in Africa, with terrorist bombings cursing Dar es Salaam (1998), Nairobi (1998), Mombasa (2002), and Algiers (2007). Furthermore, economic rape, such as the ‘conflict diamond’ tragedy of Liberia and Sierre Leone, provide funding for terrorist groups (Al Qaeda) that allow such to initiate and maintain anti-American operations.

Fourth, African nations are essential contributors both to intra-African military operations that help stabilize the African continent and also to many key UN multilateral peacekeeping missions. In fact, Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa rank among the top 10 nations in their contributions of troops to such peacekeeping operations over the past decade or so. By training and aiding African troops, thus making a military career more attractive for African youths, we will be funding a military waterfall that will support the international community and reduce the need for US troops to be involved in future peacekeeping operations in Africa or elsewhere. Furthermore, US medical assistance will help erode the future dampening of African military abilities that will inevitably result from the abnormally and dangerously high HIV rate (40-to-60%) among the majority of African soldiers.

With this in mind, there should be no doubt that the creation of AFRICOM and its active funding is an essential component of U.S. national security policy in the Terrorist Age. Fortunately, the process of birthing AFRICOM has been moving along with relative success over the past few months. Nevertheless, as is to be expected, problems and complications remain.

To begin with, there is the issue of how much AFRICOM will cost to erect and to maintain. Unfortunately, not much information has been revealed on the command’s projected FY 2008 budget. Transition team head Navy Rear Admiral Robert Moeller sets the FY 2007 amount at $50 million. However, considering the transportation and reorganization factors involved, experts say that the initial costs for setting up AFRICOM will bump up the FY 2008 budget considerably. Furthermore, plans to transport economic assistance programs now being used in Iraq and Afghanistan to Africa via AFRICOM soft power means may likely run high (perhaps to the $1 billion mark). To offset ballooning budgets, DOD claims that much of the cost for AFRICOM will be redirected from other combatant commands. However, whether this promise is put-on scrooginess for Capitol Hill consumption has yet to be revealed.

Aside from budgeting, there is also the issue of the personnel composition and structure of AFRICOM. As a "combatant command plus," one that mixes soft and hard power and thus military and civilian personnel, AFRICOM will be a hybrid giant staffed by an interagency personnel kaleidoscope. At the top will stand the traditional 4-star general or admiral. Below him, there will be two deputy commanders – one military, one civilian. The first civilian deputy commander will be from DOS. The following deputies will come and go from other civilian agencies on a rotational basis. In its entirety, the AFRICOM staff is expected to be about 400-to-700. This is less than the typical 400-to-1000 associated with other combatant commands. According to DOD, one-third of the AFRICOM staff will be civilian in nature.   However, considering the smaller size of civilian bureaucracy, DOS and other government agencies claim that they do not have enough personnel to fulfill this request. Furthermore, DOD has not specified exactly which positions will be filled by civilian personnel or how much power such personnel will have vis-à-vis their military counterparts – although the civilian deputy commander will not be in the military chain of command.

Lastly, controversy and concern still exist over the future location of AFRICOM headquarters – Europe or Africa?  Advocates of the former argue that a continental presence will drag US troops into African conflicts via the mission creep possibilities birthed by the convenience of proximity. Advocates of the latter argue that an on-ground presence will demonstrate American commitment to Africa, enable American influence to flow with greater velocity, and assist AFRICOM in playing the decisive role its many defenders advocate. Increasingly, indeed, after the one-year period (October, 2007 to October, 2008) during which the African Command will remain based in Stuttgart, Germany under the temporary gaze of EUCOM, it seems likely that AFRICOM headquarters will be placed in an African location. Specifically, the nations of Botswana and Morocco seem to be two likely candidates for such basing due to their stated willingness to accept the responsibility and to the happy fact that their stable politico-economic systems significantly lessen the likelihood that their governments will be overthrown next Thursday. Added to this, DOD further plans to install several sub-headquarters throughout Africa for more localized components of AFRICOM that will further increase the African geographical presence of US forces and thus our ability for rapid response in times of crisis.

That being said, the necessary creation of AFRICOM is moving along at a pace generally commendable in its constancy. However, above all, it is key that the new command receive generous funding for its operations. Budget-redirecting in Washington has become the norm since Iraq and Afghanistan and pre-election year politics have already raised cries for frugality from political circles. Furthermore, it is also key that AFRICOM receive its promised political backing. An orphaned command will not be able to stand up against the daddy commands arrayed against it with decades of history and layers of bureaucracy on their side. Whatever happens, the economic and political commitment to AFRICOM must remain as enduring as Gibraltar in its power and constancy so that a crucial reform for U.S. military structure and security is not sacrificed in this most pressing time of need.

Colin Crowley is an intern at the Center for Security Policy, and a Master’s candidate in Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program.

An African “Marshall Plan”

After years of intermittent engagement, China’s 50-year relationship with the African continent has accelerated recently, with discussions on issues including energy, security and trade taking center stage. Over the past several years, Beijing’s Communist government has invested billions of dollars in African projects, gaining favor with a number of fledgling governments.

This change has occurred as Western influence has steadily declined, the result of inconsistent and often times ineffective policies related to important African concerns, such as poverty, disease, corruption and infrastructure development. The disjointed Western response to critical African needs has pushed the continent closer to China, providing a unique opportunity for Chinese President Hu Jintao to become Africa’s newest savior.

Using this emerging relationship to its strategic advantage, Beijing’s leadership has increased multilevel dialogue on political, economic and security issues. Propelled by its need to secure oil, natural gas and mineral resources to maintain its double-digit economic growth, China has become Africa’s third-largest trading partner, behind only France and the United States. Initiatives such as the Asian-African Strategic Partnership established to improve investment opportunities between Asia and Africa, the annual China-Africa Co-operation Forum and frequent trips by high-level Chinese officials to resource-rich countries such as South Africa and Nigeria have bolstered the China-Africa relationship. China-Africa trade, which stood at roughly $11 billion in 2000, has ballooned to more than $55 billion in 2006 and is expected to top $100 billion by 2009. China has also made significant inroads on the continent by forgiving large amounts of African debt, building roads, schools, hospitals and railways and pledging nearly $8 billion in loans and investments. 

But as the China-Africa relationship has matured, serious questions have also begun to surface regarding Beijing’s treatment of the continent’s population and resources. Beijing’s firm support of the brutal Sudanese government in the face of proven human-rights violations in Darfur has soured China’s reputation, especially in light of revelations last week that Chinese-supplied aircraft were used to attack refugees. Chinese dumping practices, which are contrary to World Trade Organization rules, have continued unabated, threatening indigenous African industries and entire labor markets. Beijing’s policy of staying out of the internal politics of countries it conducts business with has come under fire from international human-rights groups.

Even more troubling, Chinese officials have shown a historical tendency to work with Islamist governments in order to negotiate favorable agreements to meet their immediate and long-term economic needs and to counter U.S. interests, especially in the Middle East. The same strategy has been employed in Africa, where lucrative arms and energy deals have seen China gain political capital in places like Sudan, Algeria and Libya.

All of this has occurred as U.S. influence on the continent has diminished, due in part to its involvement in the Middle East. This has allowed China to make substantial progress, nurturing deep economic, political and defense ties. Making matters worse for Washington, Beijing’s progress comes as disagreements over China’s military modernization, currency revaluation, trade practices and extra-regional aspirations have intensified.

The time has come for Washington to raise its profile in Africa. This can be accomplished by expanding independent pledges of humanitarian aid, enhancing participation in the existing U.N. relief and security apparatus, increasing high-level diplomatic contacts and implementing a comprehensive economic stimulation package which includes low-cost loans, grants, infrastructure development and corporate partnerships. In essence, a multi-faceted, U.S.-sponsored "African Marshall Plan" should be pursued to counter increased Chinese involvement.

The alternative to such a policy for the United States is obvious — China will continue to foster deep strategic relationships with African countries resulting in possible restricted U.S. access to emerging energy and trade markets. A worst-case scenario could see a possessive-minded China heavily influencing Africa on economic, political and military issues, resulting in decisions being made to benefit China exclusively at the expense of U.S. regional interests. 

For their part, African leaders should pursue in earnest the development of a regional strategy that protects and secures the long-term goals of the African people, their civilization and rich culture. The negotiation of favorable deals with Beijing to alleviate many of the ills that plague the continent such as poverty and HIV/AIDS should be a top priority. At the same time, Africa will need to assess its relationship with China very carefully, with the ultimate aim of protecting valuable natural resources from exploitation while holding China accountable for its actions on the continent.

In the end, unwavering solidarity among African countries will be necessary to ensure continuous and measurable progress which will lead to a better life for all of Africa’s population.

Terror’s North African front

While news from Africa has lately focused on the nearly-avoided establishment of an Islamist government in Somalia, there is another looming Islamist threat that deserves close attention as it expands in scope.   Recent evidence suggests that a militant Sunni Islamist group based in Northern Africa and tied to al-Qaeda – the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (known by its French acronym, GSPC) – is broadening its reach, with deadly consequences.

Faithful Followers – Not Just Empty Rhetoric

Although GSPC is a relatively small group – whose membership diminished into the several hundreds following an amnesty offered by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 1999 – it continues to carry out deadly attacks on a widespread scale in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.   In addition to conducting terrorist acts – which increasingly target westerners – GSPC has expanded its mission to include the provision of training and funding for other terrorist groups and the recruitment of jihadists for the war in Iraq. 

Through the GSPC, extremists are exploiting the abundant pool of young, jobless men inhabiting the region.   Cells spread their Islamist propaganda and calls to join the jihad by distributing CDs.   Recruits have come from Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali and perhaps elsewhere.   As explained by Fernando Reinares, an international terrorism analyst at Madrid’s Elcano Institute, "The GSPC has become more committed to targeting Westerners, including civilians, and to mobilizing recruits for Iraq," and its operatives pose a danger to southern Europe in addition to northwest Africa.  

If there is any doubt of GSPC’s clarity of purpose, one need look no further than the group’s pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2003, along with its recent name change to "al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb."   In a video released in early January of this year, GSPC leader Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud communicated the following message to Usama bin Laden:

Our precious Shaykh and Commander…Our swords are drawn and we are risking our lives, as we consider nothing too precious to sacrifice for the sake of the victory of Islam…In the name of Allah, we will not disappoint you as long as we have a pulse in one of our veins and an eye that can blind.   Our Shaykh, regardless of what happens, you will only find obedience in us, Allah willing.

This indicated a favorable response to a video released in September of 2006 by al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri, who appealed to GSPC to work against Western interests, specifically the United States and France.  

Murderous Actions – Not Just Vague Threats

Since its inception, GSPC has engaged in deadly clashes with Algerian and Tunisian security forces – for example, claiming responsibility for the April 2002 truck-bomb attack on a synagogue in Djerba, in which 21 people were killed, including 14 German tourists.   And only this past Tuesday, GSPC claimed responsibility for yet another terrorist attack in Algeria, as seven bombs went off almost simultaneously, killing six people east of the capital Algiers in the elaborate assault.

More recently, in late December 2006, GSPC specifically targeted Westerners in an attack on a bus carrying contract workers for the construction firm Brown & Root – Condor.   The ambush resulted in the killing of an Algerian driver and wounded one American, four Britons, two Lebanese, a Canadian and an Algerian.   GSPC claimed responsibility, stating:

Allah…has guided a group of mujahideen in executing an operation that targeted crusaders working for the American company Brown & Root – Condor in Bouchaoui, on the road between Algiers and Zeralda…This operation is a modest gift that we offer to our Muslim brothers who are suffering from the misfortunes of the new Crusade that is targeting Islam and its sanctuaries.

Of particular concern is the fact that the group involved in the December attack – carried out by five Tunisians and one Mauritanian – crossed into Tunisia through the country’s sprawling desert border with Algeria, reminiscent of the manner in which Afghanistan’s deserts have harbored Islamic militants.

On January 12 of this year, Tunisian Interior Minister Rafik Haj Kacem announced the dismantlement of a GSPC cell, following a three-week period of separate gun battles between Tunisian security forces and the terrorists.   This resulted in the seizure of explosives, embassy maps and lists of foreign diplomats.  

And Moroccan authorities announced that same month that a radical Islamist network recruiting jihadist volunteers to fight in Iraq was broken up, resulting in the arrest of 62 would-be terrorists.   The network was reported as having solid ideological, financial, and operational ties to GSPC and the alleged leader of the group, 36-year-old Tunisian Abu Hashem, is a veteran of the Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan jihads, and has worked with jihadist cells operating in Northern Italy.   Hashem, in fact, was indicted in April 2005 in Milan, but left Italy before resurfacing to run operations in Tunisia.

Indicating the growing expanse of GSPC operations, in late-December 2006, the 10th and 11th stages of the Paris-Dakar Auto Rally race were cancelled on the advice of the French secret service, who believed GSPC might call upon 500 armed followers across the Sahara to carry out attacks.

Furthermore, reports suggest the group has established ties to the Moroccan terrorists responsible for the 2004 Madrid bombings.   The arrest of Moroccan terrorist Mbark El Jaafari – who may have received military training in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in 2001 – in the Spanish town of Reus is another of the latest examples of a GSPC–al-Qaeda presence in Europe and recruitment for fighting in Iraq.   In fact, according to Spanish police, GSPC has sent 32 recruits to Iraq to launch suicide attacks since May of 2006.  

Part of a Global Islamist Movement

To the Islamists it does not matter if we choose to limit our scope of attention to Iraq or Afghanistan.   The enemy is constantly on the march and will continue to wage war wherever Sharia law does not rule.   GSPC is only one example of a group sharing al-Qaeda’s ideology and international agenda.   It is a template repeated around the world, from the Egyptian group Jamaat al Islamiya, to Lashkar-i-Tayyaba in South Asia.

As detailed above, this radical Islamist group with origins in, and operating out of, Africa poses a threat to our allies in Europe and Americans in Iraq.   We cannot ignore their capability and willingness to wage jihad.   Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud said in his call to arms and appeal to al Qaeda, "Come dear brothers, and help Allah and his messenger!..Come and earn the honor of participating in the current Islamic battle between the camp of the believers and the camp of the infidels!"   It is time to fight back.

In Africa, a step forward

On Tuesday, President Bush announced his approval of plans to stand up a new Unified Command (inter-service military command) for Africa – responsibility for which had previously been divided among three separate regional commands.  As the Center for Security Policy has long argued, this is a critical step toward improving the Nation’s security posture.

For decades, America’s inattention permitted the African landscape to become increasingly dominated by elements intent on using the region to undermine U.S. interests, a fact underscored recently by the narrowly-avoided establishment of a Taliban-style regime in Somalia.  The United States will, therefore, vastly benefit from streamlining and increasing through AFRICOM, as the command will be known, its national security efforts with respect to the continent. 

Critically, the President’s plan follows a Center recommendation that, although viable options do not presently exist, a proper strategy for engaging Africa requires placing this new command where it will have the greatest impact – in Africa.  As such, AFRICOM will initially be operated out of European Command – where much expertise on the region is currently housed – while Washington continues to work closely with its African allies to choose a location on the continent for the command’s permanent establishment.

The Center applauds the President and his visionary team for their decision to eschew America’s historical neglect of its security interests in Africa and engage in this vital front in the larger War for the Free World.