Strengthening America’s presence in Africa: Implications of Blinken's visit to Ethiopia and Niger
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Ethiopia and Niger carries many connotations, given the international changes and conflicts taking place within the African continent.
The US State Department confirmed in a statement that Blinken's visit to Ethiopia comes in an attempt by Washington to consolidate the principle of peace and end the state of civil war in the country, adding that Blinken will also make the first visit of a senior US diplomat to Niger for security talks in the volatile African Sahel and Sahara region, which suffers from the widespread presence of ISIS and al-Qaeda.
For her part, Nourhan Sharara, a researcher on African affairs, said that Blinken’s visit to Ethiopia is not a surprising matter for those who follow Washington’s moves on the continent, adding that the United States realized belatedly the need to establish fruitful cooperative relations with the African continent, especially following the Russian and Chinese expansion, which could threaten American affairs.
Nourhan confirmed in a special statement to the Reference that we have all seen Washington's attempts to create a large space for it in Africa during the US-Africa summit that was held months ago, as it provided support and privileges and opened files for cooperation and development with the continent, which reflects a change in US policy towards the continent.
She added that the visit of the US Secretary of State clearly reflects America's desire to settle differences between it and African countries, and to start new relations of security cooperation rather than security control, especially since a calm security situation in Africa does not benefit Africa alone, but also benefits the great powers, because for them, Africa is a mine for raw materials and the solution to all the crises that are currently sweeping the world. She added that the continent is now an area of conflict between these powers, namely a struggle for development and benefit, and Blinken's visit is considered a response to the increased presence of the Russian Wagner Group.
Strengthening the American presence
In the same context, Mohamed Rabie al-Daihi, a researcher in international relations, said that Blinken's visit to Niger and Ethiopia is of great importance in terms of timing, as international poles seek to strengthen their presence in Africa, where the United States and international powers see a real opportunity to save their countries from the current international crises, especially since the African continent has the highest rates of development, in addition to the natural wealth and resources owned by the countries of the continent. In this context, the American visit to Niger and Ethiopia came with the aim of deepening the American presence in Africa.
In an exclusive statement to the Reference, Rabie confirmed that the visit aimed to strengthen the American security presence on the continent in light of the decline or traditional positioning of France in African countries, especially considering the escalation of the Russian and Chinese presence in this region, which suffers from many crises at the security and economic levels.
Blinken's visit is the first of its kind to Niger since the start of the war against terrorism and the damage the country has suffered, as well as the first to Ethiopia since its own internal crisis started, Rabie pointed, explaining that this reflects a change in US foreign policy, the primary goal of which is to compete with the Russian and Chinese presence in light of the re-arrangement of France’s priorities in the African continent. He added that the visit to Niger comes to counter Russia's attempt to be present in the region and outperform Western countries, against the background of the increased presence of the Russian Wagner Group.
On the other hand, Rabie explained that the visit to Ethiopia, which comes shortly after the American-African summit, is due more the symbolism of Ethiopia, which contains the headquarters of the African Union.