, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 10 – The United States (US) government has ruled out a military intervention on the continent to combat the increased terror threat.
In a tele-conference with journalists across the continent on Wednesday evening, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield said a military response is not the answer to the terror challenge.
“The answer is not the US Government sending African Command to address this in a military way. This is not just a military response; it’s more a response that requires looking at economic development, looking at education programmes, looking at services and infrastructure being provided to these communities,” she said to a question on Boko Haram.
On the Al Shabaab, she said America’s military presence in Somalia was targeted at building the capacity of the country’s own military forces following the US military’s recent admission of its presence there since 2007.
“We have a Somalia strategy that tries to focus on helping Somalia invest in the future of its people. And part of that strategy is to have a small cell of our military work with the Somali military to build their capacity to address the kinds of attacks that we saw happen yesterday (Tuesday) at the Villa Somalia and other attacks that we’ve seen around the continent,” she said in response to Capital FM News.
Extremism on the continent, she said, would also be tackled during the inaugural US-Africa Leaders Summit that will be held in Washington between August 4 and 6, bringing together Heads of State from 50 African countries.
The Heads of State would be engaged on how to combat extremism through creation of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the youth.
“This is one of the outcomes that we’ve asked African leaders to bring to the summit and that is an announcement of how they are investing in the future of the youth on the continent. Because we know if we don’t invest in these young people, they will be attracted, as we have seen, by an extremist ideology that does not provide a future for Africa,” she said.
The US is also pursuing this aim through the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) which seeks to better equip African youth in the areas of public and civic service as well as business.
The first set of 500 annual YALI participants are already receiving mentorship in these areas at 20 Universities in the United States and are expected to meet US President Barrack Obama at a town hall-style meeting at the end of their six-week training which began in June.
The US government is likely unwilling to make a military intervention on the continent given the challenges they have experienced on the Afghanistan and Iraq front.
It has however made its presence felt on in the fight against terror on the Continent through the sharing of intelligence, training and finances.
Britain has taken a similar position, acknowledging the work of AMISOM troops in Somalia but limiting their contribution to intelligence, technical and fiscal support.
Extremism however continues to be a challenge with the most recent attack being on the Presidential palace in Somalia.
“Incidents such as this further demonstrate that insecurity in Mogadishu persists, including very real threats from Al Shabaab. This is why we continue to support the efforts of the Somali National Security Forces and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to expand security and stability in Somalia. These forces stopped today’s attackers and prevented further harm,” the US Department of State Spokesperson Jen Psaki stated on Tuesday.
These cross-border attacks have led the US to relocate some of its staff from Nairobi, a measure Thomas-Greenfield said was temporary pending the resolution of the security situation in the country.
“This for us now is a temporary move, but we’re hoping that we can work with the Kenyans to change the security situation not just for Americans who are working and living in Kenya but also for Kenyans,” she said.