Marlon James' fictional account of the men behind a 1976 attempt to assassinate Bob Marley features a sprawling, gnarly cast of characters. We talk with him about the novel, his approach to writing and what it means to be part of the Caribbean diaspora living in the U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Ethiopia this week, arriving at a critical juncture for U.S. interests across the Horn of Africa. In Somalia, security forces recently killed a top Al-Qaeda leader in the region. In Sudan, military tensions have regional observers worried about a return to civil war in that country’s Southern region. We explore Washington’s delicate balancing act in the Horn of Africa.
- Rebecca Hamilton Special Correspondent on Sudan for The Washington Post; Fellow, New America Foundation; author "Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide" (Palgrave MacMillan)
- EJ Hogendoorn Project Director, Horn of Africa, International Crisis Group
- David Shinn Former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia; Co-Editor of "The Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia"; and Adjunct Professor, Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Later in the broadcast, the implications of the gay girl in Damascus really being a straight guy in Scotland. But first, tensions and instability in the Horn of Africa. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton arrived in Ethiopia yesterday with a full slate of urgent issues.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIA land grab and thousands of displaced people in Sudan weeks before the South declares independence. A new opportunity for stability in Somalia after a top al-Qaida lieutenant was killed. She also confronted a unique challenge. Few regions on the continent of Africa hold more strategic and political importance than the Horn of Africa, but the United States seems to have very few levers to influence those conflicts directly.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIJoining us in studio to have this conversation is David Shinn. He's a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and a professor in the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University. David Shinn, good to see you again.
MR. DAVID SHINNGood to see you, Kojo.
NNAMDIAlso joining us in studio is E.J. Hogendoorn. He is project director for the Horn of Africa with the International Crisis Group. E.J., thank you for joining us.
MR. E.J. HOGENDOORNIt's a pleasure.
NNAMDIAnd joining us from studios in New York City is Rebecca Hamilton, special correspondent on Sudan for The Washington Post, fellow at the New America Foundation and author of "Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide." Becca Hamilton, thank you for joining us.
MS. REBECCA HAMILTONThank you.
NNAMDISecretary Clinton arrived in Ethiopia yesterday for what was supposed to be a two-day stopover, but the trip was cut off after a volcanic eruption threatened to close the airport. But during her time in the Ethiopian capital, she became the first U.S. secretary of state to address the African Union. Ambassador Shinn, how significant was that?
SHINNThat's a significant step. There have been a lot of other foreign visitors who have addressed the African Union so in that sense it's not a first. In fact, even at one point, Susan Rice, many years ago when she was the assistant secretary of state, did so. But it's important and the main purpose of her trip to Ethiopia was I believe the stop at the African Union to discuss all these contentious issues.
NNAMDIE.J., the conflicts in Sudan and Somalia have different undercurrents and logic to them, but one common element that seems to exist is that Washington sees both of those as being very important. But Washington doesn't seem to have the capacity to directly intervene or directly influence the players. What are Washington's interests in the region?
HOGENDOORNWell, as you well know, there are lots of constituencies in the United States that are very concerned with what is happening in Sudan and have for decades. At the same time, in Somalia, we are, of course, very concerned about both the incidents of pirates off the coast and perhaps more importantly the premise that it could become a safe haven for terrorists that want to strike international targets.
NNAMDIBec Hamilton, you heard E.J. mention a lot of people in the United States interested in what is going on in the Sudan. Talk about that a little bit. Who is interested?
HAMILTONThere has been an enormous mass movement for Sudan in the U.S. for quite a while starting initially during the North/South war in Sudan where you had a huge movement of evangelical Christians and also the Congressional Black Caucus mobilizing for peace between North and South Sudan. And then, just as there was a peace agreement in 2005, really the conflict in Darfur began hitting the mainstream media. The conflict had started in 2003 in 2004. And then a mass movement developed in response to that, the so-called Save Darfur movement. So you have a longstanding commitment from civil society in the U.S. to the resolution of these issues.
NNAMDI800-433-8850 is our number if you'd like to join the conversation. What do you see as being the U.S. interest in the Horn of Africa? Or if you happen to be from that part of the world and you'd like to comment or have a question on the issues we're discussing, call us at 800-433-8850 or go to our website, kojoshow.org, ask your question there. David Shinn, Ethiopia has long been the critical Washington ally in the Horn of Africa. The government of President Meles Zenawi has been criticized for its human rights record and its treatment of dissidents.
NNAMDIBut it's been a relatively stable partner in a region of instability and now increasingly the United States seems to be relying on Addis Ababa to address regional issues and conflict areas. In many ways, it appears that Ethiopia is a country that's, well, punching above its weight in terms of international diplomacy.
SHINNWell, it is an important country in its own right. It's the second most populous country on the African continent after Nigeria so -- and it has a long-historical connection with the United States that precedes the Meles Zenawi government. But you're quite right, since Meles Zenawi took power in 1991, the relationship has been particularly close and largely because the United States and Ethiopia have collaborated on regional issues ranging from Somalia to Sudan to even further afield where you've had Ethiopian peacekeepers. And now they're going to go into Abyei, two battalions worth in order to try to maintain the peace between North and South Sudan.
NNAMDIE.J., as we speak the president of Sudan Omar al-Bashir and the president of the soon-to-be independent state of Southern Sudan are taking part in negotiations sponsored by the African Union. We know that independence is coming soon to Southern Sudan. What are the critical issues being negotiated here?
HOGENDOORNWell, that is very interesting. In fact, there are two layers of interest that are being negotiated at the moment. What you have is you have elites like al-Bashir and Kier trying to negotiate a post-separation arrangement where the different parties are trying to both share oil wealth, trying to demarcate a border and deal with a host of issues that come with cessation.
HOGENDOORNAnd some of the conflicts that we are seeing right now in the media are obviously part and parcel of that negotiation. At the same time, what you have is you have more local dynamics that are also driving tensions, that are driving conflicts and it's making it a very complicated negotiating situation.
NNAMDIDavid Shinn, the surprise announcement that came out of the AU meetings yesterday was that Ethiopia is prepared to send troops to a contested area along the Sudanese north/south border. Is that significant?
SHINNWell, it is. This is in reference to the Abyei, the border region that is highly contested by the North and the South. Ethiopia has a tradition of sending peacekeepers around the region when called upon and they're very good peacekeepers. They have a lot of experience, more than most African countries. The only downside perhaps is that it is fairly close to the Ethiopian border. Ideally, you want your peacekeepers to be a little further away from your own country, although there is land between Abyei and the Ethiopian border that they will not be operating in.
NNAMDIRebecca, the government of the North seized Abyei a few weeks ago. It was widely interpreted as a tactical move to gain leverage in talks about cessation. You recently returned from that region along the border. Could you describe that region and talk about what's going on there?
HAMILTONYes, just two weeks ago, I was interviewing what are now around 100,000 people who were displaced when the Sudanese government seized this territory. It's a territory that there is a fight over whether it actually belongs to the North or South, therefore which country it will go to once South Sudan becomes an independent nation on July 9th.
NNAMDIAnd why is that important?
HAMILTONThe decision over the land there?
NNAMDIYes, about who will get Abyei...
NNAMDI...the Abyei region.
HAMILTONThere are a few issues and it relates a little bit toward what E.J. said about this taking place on two layers. The first is at the elite level. Abyei has become infused with a sort of symbolism that makes it very difficult for either the North or South to back down. At the local level the area itself is incredibly fertile and there is a river that just runs south of Abyei town that is crucial for the nomadic population to come down into during the dry season to graze their cattle.
HAMILTONAnd you have what are on the ground two different populations that use this area, one, they're called the Ngok Dinka who are aligned ethnically and politically with the South. And they live in Abyei permanently and want Abyei to belong to South Sudan. And then, there is the nomadic population that comes down during the dry season. They're called the Miseria and they want Abyei to belong to the North. They're very worried that if Abyei belongs to the South, they won't have access to those grazing rights during the dry season.
NNAMDIAfrican Union peacekeeping missions are relatively a new phenomenon. What has their track record been like E.J.?
HOGENDOORNWell, it's been mixed, I think, to some degree. Certainly, they've been very helpful in terms of providing troops to these missions, but oftentimes they've had some inter-operability challenges that often require some more assistance and help from -- intervention from the United Nations. Some of the troops are also of variable quality. Part of the problem with what happened in Abyei was because some of the peacekeepers, these in case coming from Zambia, actually didn't do the peacekeeping that they were supposed to do.
HOGENDOORNObviously, that will be rectified by the Ethiopians who have a much better track record as Ambassador Shinn mentioned and I think this is a learning curve for the African Union also. As you've already suggested, the AU is taking on an increasingly important role in peacekeeping on the continent. They've got a peacekeeping operation or at least a joint peacekeeping operation in Darfur. They've got one in Somalia and what may happen is that the Ethiopian contingent working in Abyei will also be under some kind of an AU/UN umbrella.
NNAMDIWhich brings me back to a point that you made, Ambassador Shinn, that I'd like to ask you to expand on a little bit and that is you don't necessarily want your peacekeepers keeping the peace that close to home and Abyei is pretty close to Ethiopia.
SHINNIt is close. There is, of course, some land that separates Abyei from the Ethiopian border so it probably will be okay. But in the ideal world, you want your peacekeepers to go one country removed from your borders and my guess is...
NNAMDIBecause you don't want the conflict spilling back into your own borders?
SHINNWell, there are too many ethnic groups that overlap borders and there's always the possibility they can get engaged or be involved in some way. And ideally, you just want to avoid that situation, but there aren't that many countries that can put forth some really good, experienced peacekeeping battalions and the Ethiopians can so that's why they're often selected.
NNAMDIHere is Tesfa in Washington, D.C. Tesfa, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TESFAPeacekeeping, while it's important, the Ethiopian soldiers who went into Somalia created more problems and almost genocide in Somalia. And Sudan is our neighbor. We don't need more genocide or other trouble with Sudan. We already have enough. Sudan has taken lots of land from Ethiopia which Meles Zenawi provided. Now, in the name of peacekeeping, he's going to create more trouble with Sudan for Ethiopia. This guy is a genocider and you thank him for creating genocide in Somalia. And is this what you want? The United States, it makes me wonder.
TESFAEthiopia is being hurt. Ethiopia has a...
NNAMDITesfa, Tesfa, allow me to get -- Tesfa, allow me to get a response to your question. As you know, there are a lot of Ethiopians living in the Washington area, many of them strongly opposed to the government of Ethiopia. So Tesfa used the g-word. We'll be discussing that word later in the broadcast, genocide. But in terms of peacekeepers, they can play a vital role in protecting civilians in the midst of conflict, but they don't necessarily push a situation towards peace. In fact, by stopping fighting in a specific local area -- and this question is for you first, Bec Hamilton, they might lock in military outcomes that could turn out to be counterproductive over the long run, can't they?
HAMILTONThat's a possibility but I think the more realistic concern here is the that we're putting peacekeepers into a situation, assuming that they can take on a different role than what they actually have the capacity to do. A traditional peacekeeping mission is there to, sort of, state the obvious, keep the peace. There has to actually be the political will on both sides for peace to be sustained.
HAMILTONAnd a peacekeeping operation is actually not the best to put in if you're trying to stop the fighting between two sides. And we've seen this repeatedly in Sudan and particular in Darfur where peacekeeping missions have been sent in without the capacity to really protect civilians if there has been serious belligerency on each side. I would also caution us against assuming that it's a foregone conclusion that the Ethiopian peacekeepers are actually going to get in there.
HAMILTONWhile there has been in principle agreement, the challenge is often and actually getting those agreements implemented. So I don't think we should be, sort of, putting the cup before the horse here.
NNAMDIYour take on this E.J. Hogendoorn.
HOGENDOORNWell, I certainly would agree with what Becca is saying, at least in terms of cautionary note. At the same time, I do think that if this happens, it could be a step forward. Just a step, of course, because I totally agree with her that ultimately what's needed is a political agreement between the north and the south, as to how to deal with Abyei. But part of the problem is that both these populations in the region are heavily armed.
HOGENDOORNThey're militarized and, unfortunately, what has happened is that they've used those guns to incite violence and to create more tensions. And having a neutral party try to, at least, increase stability and increase security for both populations would probably be a good thing.
NNAMDIDavid Shinn, the U.S. is leaning on Ethiopia to provide boots on the ground. Ethiopia has sent troops to Somalia, to aid the provisional government, now is talking about sending troops to Sudan. But what is Ethiopia getting out of this?
SHINNWell, let me also go back to Tesfa's comment.
NNAMDIThat's where I was going.
SHINNBecause I'm on the record as having been opposed to the movement of Ethiopian troops and -- to Somalia in 2007. And I rather strongly oppose that. And I believe to this day that was a mistake. Having said that, to suggest what they did in Somalia as genocide is unmitigated nonsense. And Tesfa needs to get his facts straight before he makes those kinds of allegations. And also, they did not go in under African Union auspices or UN auspices. It was not a peacekeeping operation.
SHINNIt was a bilateral arrangement with the transitional federal government of Somalia. And, as I say, I think it was a mistake. But I think you have to make a distinction between that kind of activity and what the Ethiopians have done in peacekeeping operations, run either by the AU or the UN. And in those contexts, I think they've made a very positive contribution.
NNAMDIHow popular are these interventions within Ethiopia, as far as you know?
SHINNIn the case of Somalia, there -- I wouldn't say that they were popular, but there wasn't a great deal of opposition to them either. I was in Ethiopia on several occasions when these troops were in Somalia and I was surprised at, sort of, the lack of discussion about it, the lack of interest in their being there. I think, eventually, the opposition parties were speaking out against the sending of these troops to Somalia.
SHINNAs far as their operations in UN or AU peacekeeping operations, I think, there's more support for that.
NNAMDIGot to take a break. When we come back, we will continue this conversation on the U.S. and the Horn of Africa. If you're interesting in joining the conversation, call us at 800-433-8850. Go to our website, kojoshow.org, send us a tweet at kojoshow or email to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation about the Horn of Africa, UN and U.S. interests there. We're talking with E.J. Hogendoorn, project director for the Horn of Africa with the International Crisis Group. David Shinn is a former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia and a professor in the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University.
NNAMDIAnd Rebecca Hamilton is special correspondent on Sudan for the Washington Post and a fellow with the New America Foundation. She's also author of the book, "Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide." Rebecca, if you talk to anyone who follows Sudan closely, they'll tell you that any sweeping statement about good guys and bad guys are about what motivates the players on the ground.
NNAMDICan only be partially right, is that correct? First you, Rebecca.
HAMILTONI think it's always a good idea to avoid broad generalizations. And also, I would say the view that you get sitting in D.C. is very different from the one that you get when you're actually in Sudan.
NNAMDIWhy is that?
HAMILTONI think it's just a different level of knowledge that you can get from speaking to people who -- living this story day in and day out.
NNAMDIWhen it comes to this area along the border, the likely border, E.J., there seems to be a lot of different actors who are motivated by more than allegiance to the north or the south. What's the best way to understand what's happening?
HOGENDOORNWell, I think the best way to understand it, is that this area is actually better known as the Savannah zone. And it's essentially an area where ecologically, people have inter -- or people have developed different livelihood strategies for surviving in the area. And that means that, what you have, is you often times have tribes or groups of people who have settled and are trying to live mostly off of agriculture.
HOGENDOORNAnd then, you have other people who have adapted a nomadic lifestyle where, what they need to do, is they need to graze very large herds of animals, mostly cows, at least in this area, that they need to move seedingly (sounds like) between areas, just basically for them to survive. Unfortunately, what's happening is that, with modernity and with the fact that many of these people now live longer, have better health care, etcetera, etcetera.
HOGENDOORNYou have a much greater population burden on this area. And because of that, you have much more conflict over these scarcer and scarcer resources.
NNAMDIObviously, the Presidents of North and South Sudan and their diplomats, claim to be speaking for their own people. But you say, it's important to realize that both sides may be coming from what you might describe as elite positions.
HOGENDOORNWell, again, as I mentioned earlier in the conversation, I think there's two levels of negotiations to some degree. The elites, the Presidents who met in Addis Ababa, are worried about future relations between Khartoum and Juba and particularly about how they are going to arrange the succession of the south. Most importantly, again, is the issue of wealth sharing, but there's lots of other contentious issues that need to be addressed.
HOGENDOORNAnd I should say, if they're not addressed, what you have, is you have a very similar situation to which you had between Ethiopia and Eritrea which ultimately resulted in a border war. Now, what's happening, unfortunately, is that some of these areas are also becoming bargaining chips in this greater negotiations over shares of oil wealth and so forth.
HOGENDOORNAnd some people fear, especially the people in Abyei, that they are actually also a chip that may be traded by these elites without their consent.
NNAMDIBec Hamilton, over the last decade, the United States has taken a pretty hard line against Sudan, calling its campaign in Darfur a genocide and leveling sanctions against government officials. But that hard line also apparently presented the U.S. with a problem. It's approach to Khartoum seemed to be all sticks and no carrot and as a result, it didn't have or doesn't still have many tools to influence the government, is that correct?
HAMILTONThat's exactly right. I think one of the problems that we've seen is as much as there's been a push on Washington to pressure Khartoum more strongly, the question that needs to be asked is, through what means. What stick does Washington actually have left? They've already put very comprehensive diplomatic sanctions on. There hasn't been a U.S. ambassador in Khartoum for a very long time.
HAMILTONThere's already very comprehensive economic sanctions as well and so there's just not that much further that Washington can go in terms of sticks, if we're talking about Washington acting unilaterally on its own. We've pretty much done everything short of military intervention, which I don't think anyone is advocating is a good idea. And so you're left in the realm of carrots, which is what the Obama administration is pursuing.
HAMILTONOr, I think, a better strategy would've been to be looking at how to build sticks in a multi-lateral sense. Working with other countries who, at this point, have greater leverage over Sudan than the U.S. actually does.
NNAMDIWant to move onto Somalia, but before we do, E.J., the U.S. has held out the possibility of ending sanctions against Khartoum in return for the recognition of Southern Sudan and the viable peace process. But there's a problem. The Sudanese government, apparently, doesn't consider Washington to be an honest broker. In fact, from that government's prospective, it thinks the administration might be promising something it can't deliver.
HOGENDOORNWell, this is a genuine challenge because what's happened is that, often times in the past, the government in Khartoum has been promised some concessions by the United States. And they thought they had actually abided by that promise and then the United States couldn't follow through. I mean, often times, of course, that was a result of Khartoum's unhelpful actions in other regions.
HOGENDOORNBut it certainly makes it -- it gives the Khartoum government less reason for it to listen to the United States.
NNAMDIIn other words, you can't, Bec Hamilton, lift sanctions against the government of Sudan if the saved Darfur movement in the United States keeps insisting that, what that government is guilty of is committing a term -- is committing genocide, is a term that you use in the title of your book. We use it in the United States or the U.S. government ultimately use it to describe what happened in Darfur.
NNAMDIIt may or may not be an accurate description of what happened in that region in 2002 or 2004 but once that bell has been rung, it profoundly narrows the options of governments dealing with Khartoum, does it not?
HAMILTONIt does. And this is one of the huge risks of using the so called, G word, is that it does lock you into a set of policy positions. The success, if you like, of the Darfur advocacy movement was to ensure that Washington couldn't politically get away with offering to normalize relations with Khartoum. I think, it's important though to just reiterate a little of what E.J. said.
HAMILTONYes, it's a constraint that the U.S. advocates put on Washington, but it wasn't a constraint that came out of nowhere. It was, as largely, as a result of the Sudanese government's actions in Darfur, that they then said, well, you actually can't deliver the normalization that was promised for signing the north/south peace agreement.
NNAMDIOnto Somalia, David Shinn. The death of Osama bin Laden was hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against Al-Qaida, but this weekend saw another development of similar importance. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was a top Al-Qaida official in East Africa and a leader in Al-Shabaab in Somalia. He was killed in Mogadishu this weekend. This man was said to be the mastermind of the U.S. Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya in 1988. Also linked to attacks in the Kenyan resort of Mombasa and an attack that killed scores watching a world cup match in Uganda last year. How significant was that?
SHINNThe death of Osama bin Laden, in my view, it doesn't have a great deal of impact upon Al-Shabaab's ability to persevere in Somalia. It's -- it will raise some questions, I think, in the minds of Al-Shabaab, which clearly has links with Al-Qaida, but is not under the operational control Al-Qaida. So that death I would put in one category. The death of Fazul, on the other hand, who has long ties in East Africa and where the evidence is very strong that he was involved in the planning of the embassy bombings.
SHINNAnd also is the East Africa representative for Al-Qaida and is in and out of Somalia on a regular basis and probably is the one who is responsible for whatever links there are between Al-Qaida and Al-Shabaab. That's a different situation. And that will have some impact upon Al-Shabaab, which already is under stress and strain for a variety of reasons, certainly in Mogadishu from the African Union force and the transitional federal government militias, but also in some other areas of Somalia. So that -- this is a significant development.
NNAMDIActually, it was the second major development in Somalia last week because early in the week, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the death of a popular minister in the provisional government. I suggest that death, however, does not loom as large?
SHINNIt does not, but that death actually occurred after the death of Fazul. The announcements may have been in the order that you suggested. But in fact, Fazul was killed first and then the minister of interior was killed by Al-Shabaab in a suicide bombing attack. Some would suggest that maybe there was a link, maybe this was retribution. On the other hand, you probably have to plan those many days in advance.
SHINNSo it probably was planned long before the death of Fazul. But that is not as important as a development. There have been other Somalian ministers who have been assassinated in Somalia.
NNAMDIE.J., some observers are saying this could be an opportunity for the provisional government in Somalia to get an upper hand in the fight. Doe the death of Fazul create more stability or only the appearance thereof?
HOGENDOORNWell, the jury is still out, but as of now, I mean, my judgment would be that it creates more of an appearance of stability than it's a very concrete step in terms of stabilizing Somalia. As Ambassador Shinn has mentioned, lately there have been some significant gains against Al-Shabaab. I would think that most of those gains are actually -- have been the product of AMISOM of the AU mission in Somalia rather than of the TFG.
HOGENDOORNAnd unfortunately, what we are concerned about is that the TFG remains an extremely dysfunctional government and it may not be in a position to actually take advantage of those military advances that were made by the AU forces.
NNAMDIOnto the Momeen (sp?) in Chantilly, Va. Momeen, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MOMEENYeah, thanks for having me, Kojo. I submit and I want to know the thoughts of the guests that's here. Somalia, the best way to advance our interests as Americans -- and by the way, I'm a Somalia-American, and so I will use Somalia as an example, is really to have a direct relationship with, you know, between U.S. and Somalia and not rely on -- not just the (word?) and many others in the UN envoy.
MOMEENAs well as having the Somali's who are affected who know the needs and concerns via the table under ones who speak for Somalia, in the interest of Somalia are not people like David Shinn and others, I hate to say. Because they cannot really articulate well the real issues that affect Somalia and exactly how this relationship between Somalia and U.S. can be advanced. I mean, we stand (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIMomeen, are you suggesting -- Momeen are you suggesting that the U.S. needs to engage more with the Somali Diaspora in the United States?
MOMEENSomalia and the Diaspora as well as the stake holders on the ground in Somalia rather than relying on third parties whether they be called experts or they are UN and (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIIt's an intriguing question, E.J., because we know that Fazul's death was confirmed by American intelligence operating in Kenya. But what kind of presence does the U.S. have within Somalia official or otherwise?
HOGENDOORNWell, there is a covert presence in Somalia as far as we know. Obviously, because it's covert, we don't know how big it is. But certainly, there is a close intelligence and security relationship between the United States and some elements of the transitional federal government. That said, the caller is right in saying that we don't have an official presence in Mogadishu. It's deemed way too dangerous for a foreign consulate or even an embassy.
HOGENDOORNAnd so much of Somali policy is run by a Somalia unit within the Nairobi embassy.
NNAMDIAnd, David Shinn, what do we know about how involved the U.S. is in Somalia?
SHINNI think the U.S. has been fairly open in terms of its engagement there. It clearly has supported the African Union presence in Mogadishu. It provides a small amount of development assistance, mainly going into Somalia land and Punt land. And that's available in the USAID website. It may be a little out of date but it eventually shows up there. What we don't know are any covert activities that might be going on.
SHINNThere was, for example, in 2009, the special forces attack against one of the three persons involved in the embassy bombings. This was an attacks in south of Mogadishu. We only learn about that after the facts. So what is going on in that realm, we just don't know. But I think, by and large, we have a pretty good idea what the U.S. is up to.
NNAMDIHere is Brenda in Rockville, Md. Brenda, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BRENDAYes. Hi, Kojo. I wanted to shift the talk a little from the Horn of Africa to another country that Secretary Clinton visited, and that's Zambia recently as part of this trip. She gave a speech where she discussed the new neocolonialism vis-a-vis China buying up lots of resources in Africa, mines and so forth.
NNAMDIWell, Brenda, I'm glad you got to that, because we can talk about not only in the situation in Zambia, but I can ask Beck Hamilton about that in Sudan. Do you mind?
NNAMDIBeck Hamilton, as Brenda mentioned, Secretary Clinton when she talked yesterday, talked about economic development, but she paired her message with a warning about a new colonialism coming from Chinese engagement. What does she mean when we look at a country like Zambia or Sudan?
HAMILTONChina has invested very heavily and strategically actually across the continent of Africa in recent years, and you see it certainly play out in Sudan in particular in the oil industry which is majority owned and operated by Chinese state oil companies. But it goes beyond just the economic engagement.
HAMILTONThere is also an approach that China is taking in its relations with African governments that is making it quite attractive to a range of African presidents, which is that rather than the typical line of the west which is that development aid or economic assistance is contingent upon meeting certain government standards, China's assistance tends to be without any such strings attached.
HAMILTONAnd so they have a very close relationship for example with (word?) , and that is particularly powerful given that China is one of the five permanent members of the security council. And so therefore has the ability to veto any resolution that is before the council.
SHINNYes. Rebecca, I'm actually finishing a book on China-Africa relations. It will be out later this year. On the question of the use of the term new colonialism, frankly I thought that was a little bit unfortunate, because it implies that China is looking for some sort of governing control over the African countries, and that simply is not the case. China is deeply involved in Africa, in trade, in investment, security assistance, in terms of its people who are living there as traders, small traders, and operating businesses.
SHINNBut to say colonialism, I think brings a connotation that is really inaccurate. On the question of strings or no strings, I would agree that theoretically, China has no strings attached to its policy, but that's not the total picture. First off, China only has relations with those countries in Africa that recognize Beijing and not Taipei. And four countries still recognize Taiwan. So that's a string of sort.
SHINNAnd there also are a lot of economic strings attached to their loans, which means you almost always have to use Chinese equipment, you have to use Chinese companies for the infrastructure projects, and there's even an element of Chinese labor that gets involved. So the no-strings argument has limitations.
NNAMDIYou get the last comment, E.J.
HOGENDOORNWell, just on this point, I would say that there is a new scramble for Africa though, and I think that as Ambassador Shinn, you know, would point out, that there is lots of competition, not just from China, but also from other Asian countries and also from European countries for resources in the Horn. And the Horn is actually considered to be one of the last regions where there are potentially untapped oil reserves and other reserves in strategic commodities.
HOGENDOORNAnd so you are seeing an incredible scramble for oil permits throughout the entire region that's driving conflict itself.
NNAMDIThe Economist just had an article about how India is trying to get a foothold in Africa. But that's all the time we have. E.J. Hogendoorn is project director for the Horn of Africa with the International Crisis Group. E.J., thank you for joining us.
NNAMDIDavid Shinn is a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and a professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. We look forward to your book on China and Africa. David Shinn, thank you for joining us.
SHINNThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIRebecca Hamilton is special correspondent on Sudan for the Washington Post, a fellow with the New America Foundation, and author of the book "Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide." Beck Hamilton, thank you for joining us.
NNAMDIWe take a short break. When we come back, the implication of the "Gay Girl in Damascus" really being a straight guy in Scotland. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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