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Diplomacy: “Antony Blinken’s next tour in Africa is not just a match between the United States and Russia”

Diplomacy: “Antony Blinken's next tour in Africa is not just a match between the United States and Russia”
The head of American diplomacy will visit South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda between August 7 and 12, making his second tour of Africa in less than a year. According to Marc Lavergne, director emeritus of research at the CNRS, this visit is much more than a simple reaction to that of Sergei Lavrov last week. Maintenance.

TV5 MONDE: is this Antony Blinken tour a direct counter-offensive to that of Sergei Lavrov last month? 

Marc Lavergne Emeritus Director of Research at the CNRS: I'm not entirely convinced that it's just that. There may be a precipitation effect, but the countries chosen are not countries that make sense in relation to the Ukrainian emergency. There are problems specific to Africa and it is true that Russia benefits from them. It will defend its interests vis-à-vis Ukraine by offering, for example, to deliver cereals to the countries that need them. But Antony Blinken's visit is not just a match between the United States and Russia, since he is generally visiting allied countries, which have concerns independent of Russia.

(Re)see:  United States: new African tour by American Secretary of State Antony Blinken

I believe something is happening in America. Africa has always been a distant and delicate continent, due to the weight of slavery in the United States. Only the Black Caucus, (a group that brings together black elected members of Congress, editor's note) , was really interested in Africa. So two visits to Blinken in less than a year is a way of showing Africans,  “we are here, and to stay there”. In particular to expand the role of embassies, and develop new approaches. What is crucial for the United States is to control raw materials in Africa. In this, there is a war between Russia and China, because the United Kingdom is no longer there, and the United States would prefer France's position on the continent to be stronger. But it is above all a question of saying that Africa counts.

Antony Blinken has chosen to go to this country, the most powerful on the continent, a country which needs to be stabilized, of course, but on which we can count to weigh in the African Union.

Marc Lavergne Emeritus Director of Research at the CNRS.

Lavrov carefully chose the countries he went to, and Blinken's choices must also show that America is not a follower. In particular, he will go to South Africa, which is not about to fall into Russian orbit! It is a close country by language, but also by the fight against segregation, it resonates with the history of the United States. Antony Blinken has chosen to go to the most powerful country on the continent, a country which needs to be stabilized, of course, but on which we can count to weigh in the African Union.

(Re)read: in Africa, Russia is waging a war “not against enemies, but to establish itself”

As for the DRC and Rwanda, Blinken goes there to show that America can do something to solve the crisis caused by the M23 . Everything that happens in Kivu is important from a humanitarian point of view and for the stability of the DRC obviously, but also because this crisis revolves around raw materials that everyone needs! We must try to interpret these visits: this trip is part of the construction of a long-term relationship with the continent: it is not simply a question of coming once in a while.

(Re)see:  DR Congo: who are the M23 rebels

TV5 MONDE: what can Blinken offer these countries?

The Americans are already present in Niger with, among other things, a major military base in Niamey and one in Djibouti with Africom (the central command of American forces on the African continent, editor's note). But the United States must show that it is really committed if it wants to prove that it is different from the Russians. They support for example Paul Kagame, in particular, because he speaks English and because he is interested in new technologies. It is interesting for future American investments.

The American army was deploying in 2021 in Africa between 6,000 and 7,000 soldiers on rotation. They conduct joint operations with national armies against jihadists, particularly in Somalia. The main American base is in Djibouti with 4000 men. 

The American army was deployed in 2021 in Africa with between 6,000 and 7,000 soldiers on rotation. They conduct joint operations with national armies against jihadists, particularly in Somalia. The main American base is in Djibouti with 4000 men.
TV5MONDE

(Re)read:  United States – Africa: what are the challenges of Antony Blinken's visit to the continent?

Good governance is needed to restore African countries to a “business-oriented” image (favorable to business and trade). Africa must be open to American investments and we must say to the Americans: “we must go there!”. France is already there, we can see it with Bolloré, from palm oil to railways, or EDF and its dam projects. The Chinese are there too, there is a real danger of economic competition and therefore a need for deep commitment. This is what drives Americans to say to themselves  “we have to come back”

. United States – Africa: what conclusions can be drawn from Antony Blinken's visit to the continent?

In the crisis with the DRC, Blinken can call for reason, in particular by putting his weight on Kagame, and try to build or rebuild a functional African Union. The DRC joined the East African community recently, but America has interests there too, like in Kenya, where Blinken went last year.

 

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