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Monday, August 8, 2011

Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa


Lauren Ploch
Analyst in African Affairs

In recent years, analysts and U.S. policymakers have noted Africa’s growing strategic importance to U.S. interests. Among those interests are the increasing importance of Africa’s natural resources, particularly energy resources, and mounting concern over violent extremist activities and other potential threats posed by under-governed spaces, such as maritime piracy and illicit trafficking. In addition, there is ongoing concern for Africa’s many humanitarian crises, armed conflicts, and more general challenges, such as the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS. In 2006, Congress authorized a feasibility study on the creation of a new command for Africa to consolidate current operations and activities on the continent under one commander. Congress has closely monitored the command since its establishment.

On February 6, 2007, the Bush Administration announced the creation of a new unified combatant command, U.S. Africa Command or AFRICOM, to promote U.S. national security objectives in Africa and its surrounding waters. Prior to AFRICOM’s establishment, U.S. military involvement on the continent was divided among three commands: U.S. European Command (EUCOM), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), and U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). The command’s area of responsibility (AOR) includes all African countries except Egypt. AFRICOM was officially launched as a sub-unified command under EUCOM on October 1, 2007, and became a stand-alone command on October 1, 2008.

DOD signaled its intention to locate AFRICOM’s headquarters on the continent early in the planning process, but such a move is unlikely to take place for several years, if at all. The command will operate from Stuttgart, Germany, for the foreseeable future. DOD has stressed that there are no plans to have a significant troop presence on the continent. The East African country of Djibouti, home to the Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) at Camp Lemonnier, provides the U.S. military’s only enduring infrastructure in Africa.

As envisioned by the Department of Defense (DOD), AFRICOM aims to promote U.S. strategic objectives and protect U.S. interests in the region by working with African states and regional organizations to help strengthen their defense capabilities so that they are better able to contribute to regional stability and security. AFRICOM also has a mandate to conduct military operations, if so directed by national command authorities. In March 2011, for example, AFRICOM commenced Operation Odyssey Dawn to protect civilians in Libya as part of multinational military operations authorized by the U.N. Security Council under Resolution 1973.

The 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa and more recent attacks have highlighted the threat of terrorism to U.S. interests on the continent. Political instability and civil wars have created vast under-governed spaces, areas in which some experts allege that terrorist groups may train and operate. The upsurge in piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa has been directly attributed to ongoing instability in Somalia. Instability also heightens human suffering and retards economic development, which may in turn threaten U.S. economic interests. Africa’s exports of crude oil to the United States are now roughly equal to those of the Middle East, further emphasizing the continent’s strategic importance. This report provides a broad overview of U.S. strategic interests in Africa and the role of U.S. military efforts on the continent as they pertain to the creation of AFRICOM. A discussion of AFRICOM’s mission, its coordination with other government agencies, and its basing and manpower requirements is included.



Date of Report: July, 22, 2011
Number of Pages: 43
Order Number: RL34003
Price: $29.95

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The Republic of South Sudan: Opportunities and Challenges for Africa’s Newest Country


Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs

In January 2011, South Sudan held a referendum to decide between unity or independence from the central government of Sudan as called for by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the country’s decades-long civil war in 2005. According to the South Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC), 98.8% of the votes cast were in favor of separation. In February 2011, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir officially accepted the referendum result, as did the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, the United States, and other countries. On July 9, 2011, South Sudan officially declared its independence.

The Obama Administration welcomed the outcome of the referendum and recognized South Sudan as an independent country on July 9, 2011. The Administration sent a high-level presidential delegation led by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, to South Sudan’s independence celebration on July 9, 2011. A new ambassador is also expected to be named to South Sudan.

South Sudan faces a number of challenges in the coming years. Relations between Juba, in South Sudan, and Khartoum are poor, and there are a number of unresolved issues between them. The crisis in the disputed area of Abyei remains a contentious issue, despite a temporary agreement reached in mid-June 2011. The ongoing conflict in the border state of Southern Kordofan could lead to a major crisis if left unresolved. The parties have yet to reach agreements on border demarcation, citizenship rights, security arrangements, and use of the Sudanese port and pipeline for oil exports. South Sudan also faces various economic, government capacity, and infrastructure challenges (see “Development Challenges”).

The United States maintains a number of sanctions on the government of Sudan. Most of these sanctions have been lifted from South Sudan and other marginalized areas. However, existing sanctions on the oil sector would require waivers by the executive branch. The U.S. Congress is likely to deal with these issues in the coming months.



Date of Report: July, 25, 2011
Number of Pages: 28
Order Number: R41900
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Guinea: Background and Relations with the United States


Alexis Arieff
Analyst in African Affairs

The past three years have seen a series of dramatic changes in Guinea’s political landscape, a new experience for a country that had only two presidents in the first 50 years after independence in 1958. In late 2008, a military junta took power following the death of longtime president Lansana Conté. Junta leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara was shot and wounded by his own bodyguard in December 2009, and his departure paved the way for a military-led transitional government. In June 2010, Guineans voted in their country’s first presidential election organized by an independent electoral commission and without an incumbent candidate. Longtime exiled opposition leader Alpha Condé, who had previously never served in government, was declared the winner after a much-delayed run-off poll in November. Condé’s inauguration brought an end to two years of military rule and could potentially enable key reforms and the implementation of the rule of law, which are considered prerequisites for private sector growth and increased respect for human rights. Yet political, security, and socioeconomic challenges remain stark. State institutions are badly eroded, and Condé has been accused by opposition parties of attempting to delay and manipulate planned legislative elections.

A former French colony on West Africa’s Atlantic coast, with a population of about 10 million, Guinea is rich in natural resources but its citizens are afflicted by widespread poverty. Guinea has significant mineral deposits, notably comprising a quarter or more of global bauxite (aluminum ore) reserves, and U.S. companies are involved in the extractive industries sector. Chinese investment, though longstanding, appears to be on the rise and has sparked international and internal controversy.

International policy makers view Guinea as central to preserving security gains in neighboring Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Côte d’Ivoire. While Guinea has experienced regular episodes of internal political turmoil since independence in 1958, it was considered a locus of relative stability during much of the past 25 years, during which time each of its six neighbors suffered armed internal conflicts. Still, democratic progress was limited, and popular discontent with the government rose along with instability within the outsized and fractious armed forces. Since the military coup of 2008, Guinea has been seen as a potential vector of insecurity, particularly as its role as a hub in the transnational narcotics trade has grown.

U.S. policy challenges in Guinea center on democratization and good governance; counternarcotics issues; security sector reform; economic interests; regional peace and stability; and socioeconomic and institutional development. Following the 2008 military coup, the United States identified Guinea’s political transition as a key policy goal in West Africa and made significant financial and diplomatic contributions toward the success of Guinea’s election process. Selective U.S. bilateral aid restrictions, which were imposed in connection with the coup, have been lifted in the wake of the successful transfer of power to a civilian-led administration. U.S. policymakers have indicated support for the resumption of bilateral security assistance and for security sector reform, but the levels and types of U.S. assistance may be weighed against other regional and policy priorities. Congress may play a role in guiding U.S. engagement with Guinea through the authorization, appropriation, and oversight of U.S. programs and policies. Guineafocused legislation introduced during the 111
th Congress included H.Res. 1013 (Ros-Lehtinen) and S.Res. 345 (Boxer).


Date of Report: July 26, 2011
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: R40703
Price: $29.95

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