Trump is not only recalling our military willy nilly, he is kneecapping our few diplomats left as he strews mayhem in Africa.
Tensions are on a sudden rise in Ethiopia, Egypt and Somalia, and best I can tell it all leads back to reflexive tweet-like actions by Trump since his defeat.
For the second time since February, Egypt detained major human rights activitists closely associated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The unannounced arrests came right after the activists met with western diplomats and only days after 50 people were summarily executed for such radically diverse crimes as “fake news.”
Egypt has grown increasingly autocratic ever since Trump’s public support for the widespread crackdowns begun in 2017. The Brookings Institute recently referred to Trump’s support as “unbounded.” Clearly Egyptian authorities are taking advantage of this lame duck period to solidify their terror.
More worrisome is the situation in the Horn of Africa. Trump has never liked nor understood the complex situation there. As a buddy of Saudi Arabia he’s been on the wrong side of the Yemen conflict for a long time, and his frustrations seem now to be setting the area on fire.
He’s withdrawing military from Somalia and dumbing it down in Djibouti. I wrote several years ago about how he had eviscerated the diplomatic core in the area leaving only our military to juggle a very touchy situation. Now that’s being withdrawn as well.
I was never a fan of Obama’s militarization of The Horn. Obama’s argument was that The Horn was the womb of terrorism directed against America, and he was right about that. We disagreed about how to deal with it. Obama created Africom, an entire new division of the military to deal with it.
But now years after constructing a fulsome military presence in Africa, it’s crazy to just deconstruct it with tweets. Entire regions, their leaders and commerce, have grown dependent upon the situation. Removing our hardware and staff support as is happening now is like pulling out the keystones of a skyscraper just built over a kindergarten.
The key to Obama’s plan in The Horn was Kenya. In the early years of his career he created a Kenyan Army, and Kenyan soldiers ultimately pacified Somalia. The Kenyan people suffered terribly as a result: there were horrible bombings in Nairobi.
But the Kenyan people never faltered in their support for Obama. I’m sure part of this was because of the enormous prestige that followed the creation of one of Africa’s most successful armies.
Much of that success was insured by American boots on the ground. Once Somalia was pacified American’s military presence in Somalia became visible.
Mogadishu was rebuilt. A prominent Minnesotan who was a refugee from the earlier wars returned to become Vice President. Then at the beginning of Trump’s term, diplomats were withdrawn leaving only the military.
Saturday night Trump ordered the military to withdraw the remaining troops from Somalia.
Immediately, Kenya and Somalia became embroiled in massive feuds. They have both recalled their respective ambassadors. War is once again imminent as Al-Shabaab reconstructs itself.
It’s hard to imagine Trump has any idea what he’s doing. On the one hand I wonder if he’s the playground bully taunting the military with what is usually a hopeful wish by empathetic politicians and converting it to “real news.”
It was after all a campaign promise. Just like every politician before him.
On the other hand it could suggest there are more sinister forces puppeteering Trump. Russia has attempted to destabilize the region for decades to boost its own oil wealth. Iran is anxious to further infuriate Saudi and destabilizing Somalia does just that. Who knows, maybe the dead Hugo Chavez has purchase in the realm of the specter.
Whatever, it’s bad. Africa and by default America is much less safe today than before the weekend. If only Biden could become president sooner.