US losing great-power competition in Africa to China and Russia

2021-03-08 16:57:59
US losing great-power competition in Africa to China and Russia

High-ranking US officials have warned that Washington’s influence in Africa is declining and its interests are under threat as other powers like China, Russia are replacing America’s position in the continent, according to a report.

Russia and China are increasing their military and economic presence in Africa, and the United States has missed many opportunities, American magazine Foreign Affairs said in a report.

Since 2014, Russia has signed long-term military agreements with 19 African countries and has become virtually the largest arms exporter to Africa, the report said.

Russian private military companies, including the Wagner Group, which has conducted numerous operations against the US in Syria, are now active across Africa, from Libya to South Africa and Mozambique, and have begun training local groups.

Under then President Donald Trump, the US withdrew troops and resources from Africa as part of a broader national security shift from counterterrorism to great-power competition, Foreign Affairs said in its report.

The Trump administration used the euphemism “optimization” to describe the pivot away from Africa that began around 2018, but a more accurate term would be disengagement.

It pared back efforts to fight extremists in Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria, downsizing the US military footprint in some of the continent’s most volatile regions.

And in the final months of Trump’s presidency, his administration withdrew nearly all US troops from Somalia.

The shift in US strategy toward Africa reflects an assumption—shared by many in Washington—that counterterrorism and other long-standing U.S. priorities in Africa will diminish in importance as competition between the United States, China, and other significant powers intensifies. But that assumption is wrong.

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