Trouble in Africa: Old and new conflicts roil multiple nations

From: Berhane Habtemariam <>
Date: Thu, 1 Oct 2015 16:45:38 +0200

October 1, 2015 12:00 AM

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It is important to remain aware of ticking bombs in Africa, specifically in Burkina Faso, Somalia, South Sudan and West Africa in the context of overall U.S. policy.

America has been involved in Somalia since 1992 when it intervened to respond to a humanitarian crisis. The situation then had been created by a collapsed government and corresponding starvation and other suffering of the population against a background of civil war. Now, 23 years later, the country’s unelected, foreign-installed government is still under attack. America has thousands of troops, fighter bombers and a drone base in bordering Djibouti, the former French Somaliland, but an end to the disorder is still nowhere in sight.

Burkina Faso, the former French colony Upper Volta, was considered by Washington for a while to be one of the good guys among the 54 African governments. We helped train its troops, provided it substantial aid and considered its government to be reasonably responsible. Now, after President Blaise Compaore ruled for a hefty 27 years, it has had one military coup d’etat, then another, and now another as rival military forces in the country spar for power, trashing the place in the process. This is in spite of the presence of French troops in the country, ostensibly to calm spirits.

South Sudan, whose birth as a nation, independent from Sudan, America godfathered in 2011, is now hopelessly bogged down in tribal-based civil war, among the Dinka tribesmen of President Salva Kiir, the Nuer of former vice president Riek Machar and various other groups. The world, including the United States, gave the competing parties a deadline by which they were supposed to have stopped fighting. They have now broken the cease-fire and Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar are busily blaming each other for the resumed bloodshed.

The militant Islamist group Boko Haram continues to run loose in northeastern Nigeria, bordered by Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The military forces of all five countries are struggling to control its activities. 

The Obama administration has now decided to give them $50 million to fight Boko Haram. Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad are oil-rich, raising the question, “Why U.S. financing?”

Received on Thu Oct 01 2015 - 10:45:39 EDT

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