U.S. Policy Towards North Africa: Three Overarching Themes | Middle East Policy Council
The study, more than forty pages in length, is as much about the U.S. president and his administration as it is about Africa. It is a thoughtful and. more evident than in the American relationship with the Muslim states of North Africa. North Africa-Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia-constitutes a signifi- cant point of. Although the United States has long been associated with some parts of North Africa, it is very much a newcomer to sub-Saharan Africa. The American interest in.
In Morocco, Washington was dealing with a monarchy with longstanding ties to the United States. Algeria, by contrast, has had troubled political although surprisingly close economic relations with the United States since its independence and in the s was in the grips of a bloody civil war. Tunisia, like Morocco, has had close political ties with the United States, but its small size and its republican, but still authoritarian, political system presented distinctive political challenges.
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Libya was treated as a rogue state. As a result, the United States had policies towards the states of North Africa, but not a policy towards North Africa.
Recent years, however, have seen a greater convergence with regard to U. While many differences among the states of North Africa certainly remain, the important ones have significantly shrunk from the standpoint of American foreign policy. The increased regionalization of U.
North Africa policy, however, has not led to any fundamental shifts in how Washington approaches the Maghreb. Instead, this regionalization has simply reinforced a number of pre-existing trends. In essence, the United States is attempting to slide Algeria and Libya into the policy framework already in existence with regard to American relations with Morocco and Tunisia.
The purpose of this article is to discuss America's developing regional policies in North Africa. Mirroring past American practice, much of the literature on American foreign policy in North Africa is country specific. North Africa as an area of secondary American security interests; the dominance of energy in U. While certainly interrelated, these themes were selected to correspond to the three central issues for U. Comprising the southern coast of the Mediterranean and bestriding the communication routes among Europe, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb is a strategic crossroads.
As a result, the United States has tended to subordinate its relations with North Africa to what it sees as more important interests elsewhere. Perhaps the only time that U. Navy and North African privateers were, from the American side, mostly an issue of domestic politics and national identity as the young republic tried to figure out what having an independent foreign policy required.
In what would become a pattern, the United States was less interested in North Africa itself, seeing the operation primarily as a learning experience and stepping stone to the more important subsequent landings in Italy and France. Throughout the Cold War, U. Similarly, Algeria's leadership in the non-aligned movement throughout the Cold War strained its relations with the United States, even though Algeria was far from being an ally of Moscow.
As the Cold War became less dominant in U. North Africa's removal from the African Bureau and its transfer to the Near East-South Asian Bureau in the State Department in the mids symbolized and institutionalized this new position. As far as Washington is concerned, this "is perhaps the most pressing of the issues that the Maghreb faces.
TSCTI, in the words of one American official addressing a regional gathering in Algiers, "seeks to link all of our CT [counterterrorism] efforts across the region.
The transition to TSCTI not only expanded the geographical scope of the program to include North Africa along with Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria ; it also significantly increased the funding of this initiative and made this counter terrorism program an interagency, rather than just a Department of Defense program.
While the military is still offering counterterrorism training and equipment to local forces, TSCTI also includes educational programs under the U.
Agency for International Development and Treasury Department programs focusing on money laundering.
Conflict over the Western Sahara has consistently complicated relations between the two strongest states of North Africa — Morocco and Algeria — and has perhaps been the single most consequential roadblock in the way of greater North African regional cooperation. While theoretically in favor of greater North African integration, the United States has consistently taken a hands-off role with regard to the dispute, even when former Secretary of State James Baker was the official U.
While refusing to recognize Morocco's sovereignty over the Western Sahara and supporting any UN efforts to settle the conflict, the United States has also been reluctant to push any initiatives that could upset Morocco, its closest ally in the region.
Officials also believe that a settlement would enhance regional stability and economic prosperity. Instead, they are all about the potential impact Morocco can have in the Arab world, in the wider campaign against terrorism, and in the Middle East peace process. Indeed, the regional benefits that a settlement of this issue could have are treated purely as an afterthought.
This is not just a side effect of the global war on terror as similar statements could have been made about U. While treating North Africa as a secondary theater has meant that the United States may come up short in dealing with regional issues like the Western Sahara, on the positive side, it has also meant that the United States has avoided any serious crises or conflicts in the region.
In the war on terror, while North Africa is still seen as part of the larger Arab world, the Maghreb is also increasingly linked with sub-Saharan Africa and American foreign policy concerns there.Africa U S Relations
As discussed above, the Trans Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative in North Africa derived from an earlier Pan-Sahel initiative, and North Africa is currently in the process of being moved out of the area of responsibility of the American military's European Command and into the newly forming Africa Command. If the new Africa Command focuses the bulk of its efforts in the areas where most of its countries lie, namely in sub-Saharan Africa, and if Africa and the Africa Command continue to be a low priority for the United States, North Africa may see its status in American foreign policy further degraded to "sideshow to a sideshow.
Ironically, this has meant that the United States has had a far greater economic stake in the two states with which it has had relatively poor political relations. Beyond the fact that both Morocco and Tunisia have small economies in relation to the United States, both of these countries do the bulk of their trading with the states of the European Union rather than the United States.
Infor example, over 70 percent of Morocco's exports went to the EU, which was also the source of over 50 percent of Morocco's imports.
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The United States, in contrast, received only 2. The situation with Tunisia is almost identical, with Europe being the destination of over 80 percent of Tunisia's exports and the source of 75 percent of its imports, with the figures for the United States being in the low single digits for both.
By contrast, America's economic relationship with Algeria, despite the troubled political relations between the two countries, has been of great significance for both. The United States is Algeria's biggest trading partner and largest source of foreign investment. Because about 97 percent of Algeria's export earnings come from its hydrocarbon reserves, the vast majority of this trade involves natural gas and oil.
With the seventh-largest natural gas reserves in the world and the fourteenth-largest oil reserves, Algeria is likely to remain a key supplier for world markets. Libya's oil fields were largely built by U. For example, in Junethe United States signed an agreement with Algeria to cooperate on civilian nuclear-power production, an agreement that was finalized soon after Algeria announced its intent to triple its already large natural-gas exports to the United States.
If forced to choose, the United States has proven itself willing to favor moderation over increased democracy. As the states of North Africa were seeking independence, moderation meant accepting that the decolonization process was going to be slow and that, in the meantime, violence, especially violence that risked creating a rift between the United States and France with regard to the developing North Atlantic Treaty Organization, had to be avoided. Thus, while the United States was nominally in favor of self-determination, it offered little tangible assistance to North African independence movements.
Established five years ago, Power Africa was created to provide African countries access to one of the most basic needs for development: Today tens of millions of Africans — across Sub-Saharan Africa — have access to electricity in part because of commitments from more than private sector partners. Our aim is to provide 30, megawatts of power by the year — or 60 million new connections — to reach million Africans. Administrator Green announced Power Africa 2.
The United States is eager to reduce barriers to trade and investment with our African partners, helping African countries transition from dependency toward self-sufficiency, growing their middle class, and better integrating African economies with the rest of the world. YALI provides leadership and professional development training to up-and-coming African leaders on the importance of a free press, how to build more resilient institutions, and even how to start a business.
And nowhere is this more evident than in Africa. In the hardest-hit parts of Africa, infant mortality had doubled, child mortality had tripled, and life expectancy had dropped by 20 years.
One in three adults were living with HIV. Millions of orphans were left behind. And only 50, people were receiving HIV treatments. It has allowed more than 2. This administration is committed to saving lives in Africa.
The strategy is a roadmap to achieve epidemic control in more than 50 countries within three years. It outlines a path to accelerate our work in 12 high-HIV-burden countries in Africa who are poised to achieve epidemic control by For security, trade and investment, and economic development to sustain itself requires effective and accountable government institutions that earn the trust and support of their citizens.
Peace and prosperity are only possible in a democratic society. Media freedom, open communications, religious freedom, and a vibrant civil society foster creativity, ideas, and the human energy for economic growth. The African Union estimates that Africa has lost hundreds of billions of dollars to corruption — hundreds of billions that was not invested in education, infrastructure, or security. Bribes and corruption keep people in poverty.
Legitimate investment stays away, and insecurity and instability grows, creating conditions ripe for terrorism and conflict. In support of this theme, the United States will continue its work with African countries to strengthen their democratic institutions. Democracy requires transitions of power through free and fair elections.
It also needs a vibrant civil society and independent media to help inform citizens and keep them connected to their government. That included civic and voter education programs with a focus on youth, women, and other hard-to-reach, first-time voters, and working with media to promote responsible reporting. The United States is currently working on 31 projects — and is about to award nine more — throughout Africa.
We also keep good governance initiatives in mind when it comes to development. Through this agency designed to reduce poverty, the United States is able to incentivize good governance — including greater transparency — by tying it to development assistance.
This was only possible after the country had implemented policies to strengthen economic freedom, democratic principles, human rights, and to fight corruption.
Spurring reforms before a dollar of U. The United States pursues, develops sustainable growth that bolsters institutions, strengthens rule of law, and builds the capacity of African countries to stand on their own two feet. We partner with African countries by incentivizing good governance to meet long term security and development goals.
But we want to see responsible development and transparent free market practices that foster greater political stability on the continent. We hope China will join us in this effort as well.
The United States sees a bright future in Africa. Each of these priorities — trade and investment, good governments — governance, respect for human rights, combatting terrorism and instability — have the same guiding principle in mind: There are no quick fixes to these challenges, but the United States is committed to meeting them in partnership with nations of Africa so that the continent can increasingly become a place of prosperity and freedom in the 21st century.
Thank you for your very kind attention. Thank you so much. Go to the hard ones from the students. So the first one is maybe more of a personal nature, which is the reasons that led you to accept this position. As I mentioned earlier, you were leading one of the — really the largest companies that the world has ever seen, and not only that, you were CEO.
You were your own boss. I mean, you had a board, but you were your own boss, and all of a sudden, why do this? Well, I was within three months of mandatory retirement.
But I had — this was not in my retirement plans. I thought I was going to the ranch to spend more time with the life that I love and with my grandchildren. When I was 18 years old, at that time we still had a mandatory military draft.
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It was the Vietnam War. And I registered for the draft, and they had a lottery system whereby people were selected. You got a number, and they pulled numbers until they met their draft quotas. And they got within three of my number my freshman year of college, and the year came and went, and my number was 89, they got to And so I stayed in college, got a great education, got hired by a great company, had 41 and a half wonderful years, a dream career I never could have hoped for.
My uncle is a retired major in the Army, did three tours of duty in Vietnam. Thank you for that. Now, you went to Texas at Austin, joined Exxon, and you may or may not have anticipated how incredibly global your own career would end up being.
So help me — what is the best plug that you can make for why should students go abroad? And then the follow up to that is: So, why they should go to Africa, for example?
Well, I think — in my first trip abroad I was a freshman in college, and I had an opportunity to travel to Peru. There had been a terrible earthquake, a big humanitarian disaster, two cities had been literally buried under thirty meters of a mountain that collapsed. And it led to a big flow of people out of the mountains into the edges of Lima and a terrible refugee camp was set up. So I went down to Peru on a five-day mission during the Christmas holiday to bring awareness to that situation, so that was my first opportunity.
It was the first time I got a passport. I think today the case for going abroad is even more compelling than at that time in my life, because all of you know the world has transformed so dramatically. The global — our economies have transformed so dramatically.
Our own security has transformed so dramatically. And today, it is — it is all interconnected, and you simply cannot think about economic issues, you cannot think about security issues without thinking about them in a global context. And then beyond that, this is going to continue, this interconnectedness of the world. And your generation is going to have to deal with that, and it brings with it an entire new dimension of challenges my generation is only seeing the front edge of.
And go to the hard places. Like I said, I went to Lima, Peru.
I went out into the mountains and the jungles. It was quite an experience to see how people exist around the world.
U.S. Policy Towards North Africa: Three Overarching Themes
Go to the hard places. Thank you, by the way. How much of that is your own choice and based on your own experience in those countries? How much of that is sort of kind of technical decisions from your team? And at the end, why? Why those five countries out of all the many choices? But we picked these five. Ethiopia also a very longstanding, important partner with the U. We have a relationship with Ethiopia that spans more than a century now. So we have a longstanding partnership with Kenya.
And then finally to Nigeria, the most populous nation on the African continent. Tremendous natural resources and tremendous capabilities to succeed as a nation. And I spoke about the need to integrate African economies more, trade more with the neighbors. I think too often the U.