sabato 28 marzo 2020
US troops in Gabon: what for?
di Juventus Mairiga
After announcing a pull-out of its troops from Syria and Afghanistan, Trump sent troops to Africa

President Trump has quietly sent 80 military personel to Gabon close to neighboring Congo, two weeks after he caused an international uproar by declaring his intention to pull US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. Trump informed congressional leaders of the deployment in a letter noting that the combat troops would be backed by air support and would remain indefinitely, until "their presence is no longer needed". 

Congo's December 30 election, which could push the party of long time president Joseph Kabila out of power, gave rise to numerous allegations of fraud and rumours of a popular uprising if the results appear to be tainted. Observers and opposition say the election was marred by serious irregularities. Congo's government says the election was fair and went on smoothly. President Joseph Kabila's ruling coalition is backing his hand-picked successor Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. The international community has raised concerns that the disputed result could cause unrest, as was the case after the 2006 and 2011 elections. The U.S. State Department called on the electoral commission to ensure votes were accurately counted and threatened to impose sanctions against those who may undermine the process or threaten peace and stability in the country.

Trump once said: "we more and more are not wanting to be the policemen of the world. We're spending tremendous amount of money for decades policing the world, and that shouldn't be the prioririty". It was especially symbolic for the continent of Africa because Trump spoke during a joint press conference with Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari. In a complete 180 degrees, however, America has deployed an eighty-strong military contingent to Gabon in expectation of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

What are America's foreign policy interests in the DRC? An even bigger question is: doesn't America have interests in France? The world deserves to know if this is just American standard procedure or is it a plan just made for an African country. In France, mere tweets earned trump a stern warning, "let our nation be". If tweets were such disrespect to a nations sovereignty, why should army deployment be tolerated? The double standards in foreign relations with African countries is palpable. The anticipation of violence earns an African country troop deployment yet burning France is untouchable even on social media.

There is, however, a possibility that the issue is not even political but economic. After all, the Business Standard recently ran a headline "Mining World keeps keen eye as Congo counts votes for next leader". The true American intentions are buried under Congolese soil. With an untapped mineral wealth of over US $ 24 trillion, the DRC will always attract unwanted attention. This is not, however to say there are no problems in the country because tensions are indeed rising. It is just the intentions of the friendly Americans that ought to be tested.

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