Hmmm…Africa would rather not get in bed with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney….wonder why?
The Pentagon’s plan to create a US military command based in Africa have hit a wall of hostility from governments in the region reluctant to associate themselves with the Bush administration’s “war on terror” and fearful of American intervention.
A US delegation led by Ryan Henry, principal deputy under-secretary of defence for policy, returned to Washington last week with little to show for consultations with defence and foreign ministry officials in Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Djibouti and with the African Union (AU). An earlier round of consultations with sub-Saharan countries on providing secure facilities and local back-up for the new command, to be known as Africom and due to be operational by September next year, was similarly inconclusive.
The Libyan and Algerian governments reportedly told Mr Henry that they would play no part in hosting Africom. Despite recently improved relations with the US, both said they would urge their neighbours not to do so, either. Even Morocco, considered Washington’s closest north African ally, indicated it did not welcome a permanent military presence on its soil.
“We’ve got a big image problem down there,” a state department official admitted. “Public opinion is really against getting into bed with the US. They just don’t trust the US.”
Another African worry was that any US facilities could become targets for terrorists, the official said. Economic incentives, including the prospect of hundreds of local jobs, had not proved persuasive.