Rising Islamist violence in focus at US-Africa summit

Lagos - Rising violence from brutal Islamist groups in Africa will be a key issue at an Africa summit US President Barack Obama is hosting in Washington this week.

But while insecurity created by Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon, for instance, or by the Shebab in Somalia and parts of Kenya and Uganda, is plainly worrying, the United States is wary about greatly increasing direct military support to beleaguered governments.

Instead, experts say, Washington prefers to support multinational African forces like those of the African Union (AU), which, despite problems, are seen as more transparent than many national armies.

Obama has said the summit - a first-of-its-kind meeting which opens on Monday - will provide a forum to "talk to Africa about security issues".

The goal is to work with "strong partners" that have "pretty effective security forces," saving the US military money and helping keep Americans "safe over the long term", he said.

But such strong partners are not always available, and analysts say that if the United States hopes to have an impact in the continent's hot spots it will have to work with some of Africa's most troubled militaries.

Just hardware and money, please

American officials have for years said they are willing to help Nigeria combat Boko Haram, whose uprising has killed more than 10 000 people since 2009.

But the group's kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in April grabbed the world's attention - including that of US First Lady Michelle Obama - and spurred America in May to offer military and intelligence support.

Nigeria accepted the offer, but evidence suggests that Abuja was not particularly interested in operational help or training, said John Campbell, a former US ambassador to Nigeria, who is now with Council on Foreign Relations.

"Please drop off some hardware. Please write a cheque," was a likely Nigerian response to US defence and FBI experts who landed in Nigeria, a country with a decades-long history of corruption, Campbell told AFP.

Aside from marginal training and surveillance assistance, the ex-ambassador said he had seen "almost nothing" emerge from the new co-operation.

For Campbell, the question facing US policymakers is: does Nigeria's military, which has a grim human rights record, "want help from outsiders or not?"

An example 'to build on?'

Aside from relentless attacks in war-torn Somalia, Shebab insurgents have killed civilians across east Africa, including bombings in Uganda's capital in 2010 and gun attacks in Nairobi's Westgate shopping centre last year.

The US provides logistical, training, intelligence and financial assistance to the African troops fighting in Somalia.

It is the type of intervention the administration would like "to build on," Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said ahead of the summit.

He added that the US remained "concerned about efforts by [international] terrorist groups to gain a foothold" in Africa, even if many analysts saw groups like Boko Haram and Shebab as being domestically focused with almost no intention of plotting attacks on American soil.

While the AU mission against the Shebab has been credited with barring the insurgents from over-running Somalia and keeping the fragile Western-backed government in power, the pan-African force has also been subject to controversy.

Salaries for soldiers on the ground have reportedly been pocketed by commanders and there is speculation that weapons meant for peacekeepers have ended up in Shebab hands.

The force is led by troops from Uganda, a country whose once-close relationship with the US has deteriorated.

The Ugandan military has always been tightly controlled by President Yoweri Museveni and his loyalists, who are accused of looting tens of millions of dollars of US foreign aid since taking power in 1986 and using the army to crack down on political opponents.

An anti-homosexuality law, which US Secretary of State John Kerry has compared to Nazi-era measures, has intensified scrutiny of all US support to Kampala.

A Ugandan court struck down the law this week, but Museveni's allies say it remains intact and could be reinstated on appeal.

An elusive warlord

A small detachment of US special forces have been based in the Obo region of the Central African Republic since 2011, helping hunt for Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commander Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Kony, who launched his rebellion in northern Uganda in the late 1980s, has been forced out of his home country, but Ugandan troops are still on his trail.

US National Security Advisor Susan Rice said killings by the LRA have fallen 75% since the US formally joined the Kony hunt in 2010.

Former ambassador Campbell agreed that the LRA mission could be seen as a success story for the US in Africa, even if the ultimate goal remains unfinished.

"The last time I looked, Joseph Kony was still at large. On the other hand the depredations appear to be over," he said.

Read more on: au lra barack obama joseph kony us
Nobby Poltice 2014/08/04 11:35:25 AM
Religiously inspired violence threatens everyone.
Shireen Abbas Davids 2014/08/04 11:59:28 AM
This while he backs israel in Genocide ! Clearly another puppet like the rest. We r not blinded by ur Zionist media no more the worlD see the true terrorist noW
Lionel Kritzinger 2014/08/04 12:23:08 PM
Where islam resides there is trouble. Look all over the world. Stay in your own country and do your religion or whatever you want to call it..
Derek Bredenkamp 2014/08/04 12:36:42 PM
A small clue is evident in the text to help understand why Boko Haram exists.."...Nigeria's military, which has a grim human rights record." And that's a huge understatement.
Mashooda Dhorat 2014/08/04 12:52:03 PM
Islam teaches that there is no compulsion in religion. So you can enquire and educate yourself about Islam or hold a populous Islamaphobic view, its your choice. Regardless, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world especially in the west. The mosque in Orlando, Florida ran out of english Quraans and had to urgently get more as they are inundated with people wanting to read the Quraan. We do thank the media for the great marketing campaign. Human nature is such that which you try to deprive one of or disparage is what humans will want to know more about. Islamaphobia is great marketing, Thanks
Johnny B Goode 2014/08/04 01:06:47 PM
Religion 101: if a religion tells you one thing, believe the opposite. Islam, the most violent and oppressive religion in the world is known as the religion of peace. I suppose what they mean by that is that they will stop at nothing to assimilate the whole world and so...bring peace because any dissenters will be publicly killed in the most brutal of ways. Not real peace then.
Andrew MacDonald 2014/08/04 01:35:47 PM
so if i go to an islamic country can i openly follow my own customs? if not, why not?
Mashooda Dhorat 2014/08/04 03:47:03 PM
16 Howbeit of the cities of these peoples, that the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth, ?? ????-??????? ???????????, ???????? ??????????? ???????????? ?????????????, ????????, ????????????--????????? ???????, ?????? ?????????. 16 Howbeit of the cities of these peoples, that the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth, ?? ????-??????? ???????????, ???????? ??????????? ???????????? ?????????????, ????????, ????????????--????????? ???????, ?????? ?????????. 17 but thou shalt utterly destroy them: the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee;17 but thou shalt utterly destroy them: the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee;
Mashooda Dhorat 2014/08/04 03:48:06 PM
And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain. Deuteronomy 2:34 And we utterly destroyed them, ... utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city. Deuteronomy 3:6 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them. Deuteronomy 7:2 And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them. Deuteronomy 7:16 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. Deuteronomy 13:15 But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. Deuteronomy 20:16-17 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:21 So smote all the country ... he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. Joshua 10:40 Thus saith the LORD of hosts ... go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15:2-3
Mashooda Dhorat 2014/08/04 03:49:21 PM
now you know why they are killing the children and now you also know about your religion of peace