Africa Week in Review- June 20, 2014


This week the U.S. imposed sanctions on Uganda for their enactment of the "Anti-Homosexual Act" and the U.N. announced that they will be deploying drones in Mali. Read more on these stories and other news highlights from the African region below. 

  • The U.S. government announced it would discontinue several programs in response to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), which the U.S. deems a violation of international human rights. Specifically, the U.S. ended:
  • The $2.4 million Uganda Police Force community-policing program in response to concern that the police have been “involved in abusive activities… in the name of implementing the AHA
  • The Department of Defense’s Africa Partnership Flight exercise to be held in Uganda
  • As well as relocating a planned public health institute which would have included $3 million in funding from the U.S., redirecting financial support for the Ministry of Health to non-governmental partners in Uganda that support the U.S.’s commitment to equal access and evidence based medicine, and restricting entry to Ugandan citizens thought to be human rights abusers including abuses to LGBTQ individuals
  • U.S. Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Chairman of the House Sub-Committee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations stated that Boko Haram is not just a threat to Nigeria, but also threatens the U.S.’s economy and national security. Smith noted during a hearing this week on Boko Haram that the terrorist group was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) based on the impact the group’s activities can have on U.S. security, not just to Nigeria’s.
  • This week Diana Ohlbaum, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies expressed concern regarding the U.S.’s counterterrorism strategy. She stated that building military capacity in partner countries has been counterproductive and the U.S. needs to rethink its assumptions about counterterrorism assistance. Ohlbaum noted that in order for this plan to be successful their needs to be a broader development strategy focused on all aspects of counterterrorism, including transparent impact evaluation.
  • Somali militant group Al-Shabaab admitted responsibility for the recent attack in the coastal town of Mpeketoni killing about 48 people. They claimed that the attack was a response to “Kenya’s brutal oppressions of Muslims” and Kenya’s military presence in Somalia. Officials report that the attack was the bloodiest since the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi last year.
  • U.S. airmen along with their counterparts from eight West African countries re-launched the African Partnership Flight program in Dakar, Senegal. The program is funded by the U.S. Air Force in Europe and was inaugurated in 2012, but trainings have been stalled due to budget constraints. The African Partnership Flight hopes to provide three trainings per year with the hope of bringing improved communication between regional partners, enabling them to respond to natural disasters and other crises together. 
  • The U.S. posted an $18 million reward for the capture of four African militants involved in kidnapping foreigners and planning attacks against various Western targets. The four militants include a former Boko Haram member, two founding members of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and an Egyptian extremist responsible for attacks in Egypt.
  • In efforts to address the worsening security concerns in northern Mali, the U.N. peacekeeping force in the region will be operating unmanned drones to protect U.N. troops and civilians. This operation is in view of the recent suicide attack at a U.N. camp in northern Mali that resulted in the death of four U.N. peacekeepers.