Africa’s New Strategic Era:

Africa is undergoing an important emerging geopolitical change, and the American perception of Africa is changing as well, Georgetown University professor Chester Crocker told attendees at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in Washington this week. Though the African Union will be a US partner, those African states have a massive challenge on their hands in reducing civil war, he said. Conflicts in the Sudan, the Western Sahara, Ethiopia, and more are cause for US concern, he added, noting that during the 1990s more people got killed in African civil conflicts than in all other conflicts in the world combined. Crocker acknowledged that despite the rise of armed factions and political upheavals, the region is a beacon for international partners because it rivals the Persian Gulf as an oil source. He called it “the most competitive arena since the late 19th century, where there are more global players involved in the African space than ever before and where African ownership of the rules of the game is clearer than it was before.” However, Crocker admonished the Pentagon for its long-overdue creation of the new Africa Command and asserted that it has “done a poor job in rolling out AFRICOM.” He said that clear communication about US intentions has been spotty, noting that there is still a need “to mesh” US security policies “with African security policies if they’re to work.”