US gears up to expand the African Front in the War on TerrorOctober 17, 2013
Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest calls the multiple US military engagements across the Sahel (a region stretching across North and Central Africa) “The Lord Voldemort Wars” a reference to “He Who Must Not Be Named” from the Harry Potter novels. Indeed, the US has dedicated significant forces and engaged in several high intensity combat situations across the continent that, taken together, could easily be seen as the Third Front in the War on Terror. It has been nearly a year since I posted that this war was sucking in the military forces of both the US and France, This week, we read that the deployments to the region are growing, as the US sets up and expands bases in Italy for quick entry across the Mediterranean to African hotspots, the number of which have been increasing in number and intensity over the last year. The latest surge follows presidential level attention from last summer:
U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Africa in June-July was widely seen as evidence of the White House’s broader foreign policy objectives which have included an expansion of U.S. military operations across Africa.
Many of these involve small-scale “secret wars” against Islamists, mainly linked to al-Qaida and often carried out under the aegis of the U.S. Africa Command established in 2007.
“Both the number and complexity of U.S. military operations in Africa will continue to grow in the medium term,” observed Oxford Analytica.
“Given the relatively high impact contribution they make to Washington’s strategic goals, such military operations will also increasingly encroach on domains traditionally associated with development and diplomacy.
Many in this country believed that the War on Terror ended with the death of Bin Laden and would be fully wound down with the removal of US combat troops from Afghanistan. Nothing, it seems, could be farther from the truth.