JOHANNESBURG: The United States released a new strategy document for sub-Saharan Africa on Monday, stressing the region’s importance, the threats posed by China and Russia, and vowing to extend defense cooperation with like-minded African countries.
“The United States has an abiding interest in ensuring the region remains open and accessible to all, and that governments and publics are able to make their own political choices, consistent with international obligations,” the White House document said.
It expands on a November speech by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken first laying out the Biden administration’s approach to Africa. Its release comes as Blinken is in South Africa and visiting two more African countries this week.
In November, Blinken said Washington would have to do things differently to help Africa with its infrastructure needs and it was time to stop treating the continent as a subject of geopolitics and rather as a major player on its own.
Blinken also appealed to African leaders to guard against rising extremism, authoritarianism and corruption.
The new paper said that in line with the 2022 US National Defense Strategy, the Pentagon would engage with African partners “to expose and highlight the risks of negative PRC and Russian activities in Africa,” referring to China by the initials of its official name.
“We will leverage civil defense institutions and expand defense cooperation with strategic partners that share our values and our will to foster global peace and stability,” it said.
Washington would also “review and reinvest” in ways to engage with African militaries, especially in programs that help build institutional capacity, combat corruption, and advance reforms.
“Effective, legitimate, and accountable militaries and other security forces are essential to support open, democratic, and resilient societies and to counter destabilizing threats, including in Africa,” the paper said.