Why is Africa still so important to the US

By Maria Ryan


US National Security Advisor John Bolton sees China as a threat to Washington in Africa.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton sees China as a threat to Washington in Africa. John Bolton is pictured. | AP Photo/Politico

In December last year the US National Security Advisor, John Bolton, gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, in which he outlined the Trump administration’s new Africa strategy. According to Bolton, the US now faces “great power competitors” – namely Russia and China. In his view [they both]

are rapidly expanding their financial and political influence across Africa… to gain a competitive advantage over the United States.

Bolton’s portrayal of great power competition sounded like the Cold War era when the US and the communist powers, led by the Soviet Union, fought for influence over the new states emerging from colonialism across sub Saharan Africa.

At the end of the Cold War, the US withdrew almost completely from Africa. In the 1990s, Washington distanced itself from an area of the world in which it no longer saw any vital interests.

But in the 21st century there has been a significant turnaround in US policy. What’s emerged is a return to seeing sub-Saharan Africa as a site of US geopolitical and commercial interests.

This reversal is based on three factors. The first is the increasing significance of new African oil supplies. The second is the alleged presence of terrorists in the “large uncontrolled, ungoverned areas” of sub-Saharan Africa. And the third is the emergence of middle class African consumers as a potential new market for US exports.

Oil

Under George W. Bush, the US recognised that African oil from the Gulf of Guinea had become an “important factor in determining conditions in the oil market.”

Africa was also home to

a number of frontier oil provinces that may become hot exploration areas during the coming decade.

These included São Tomé and Principe, Gambia, Liberia, Togo, Benin and Niger.

Washington launched a programme to improve transparency in the oil sectors of the major African producers to make these countries

better hosts to the very large investments needed to develop energy resources and make more reliable contributions to our own energy security.

Energy security considerations led to more US military activity in the Gulf of Guinea. In 2004, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Charles Snyder, called  for a West African coastal security programme because

a lot of this new oil is actually offshore. There is no one to protect it, unless we build up African coastal fleets.

This led to the launch of the US Navy’s Africa Partnership Station in 2007 to help Gulf of Guinea states secure the region from security threats at sea.

The focus on energy security continued through the Obama years. The Obama administration established Operation Obangame Express, and the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership to train Gulf of Guinea nations to protect offshore energy.

Both have been continued under the Trump administration.

Counter-terrorism

The terrorist attacks on the US in September 2001 resulted in a new counter-terrorism dimension to US security strategy in sub-Saharan Africa. The region began to be viewed as part of an “arc of instability” stretching from Latin America, through Africa and the Middle East and extending through Asia. Its “ungoverned space and under-governed territories” might provide “sanctuary to terrorists.”

To prevent this, the Bush and Obama administrations established a series of programmes designed to strengthen border security and build internal security. A number of initiatives were launched in a bid to build security capacity in African states thought, by Washington, to be vulnerable to penetration by terrorists.

These included (to name but a few), the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (2002-present), the Partnership for Regional East African Counterterrorism (2009-present) and the Counter-terrorism Partnerships Funding (2014-present).

The expanding US military presence in Africa was symbolised by the establishment in 2007 of a new US military command structure, Africa Command(AFRICOM). It took charge of all US military activity on the continent, including the bombing of Somalia.

Commercial drivers

Finally, US interest in Africa has been driven in recent years by commercial considerations. In April 2012, the Assistant US Trade Representative, Florizelle Liser, told Congress that sub-Saharan Africa contained

many of the fastest growing economies in the world with rapidly growing middle class consumers

who were “increasingly demanding high quality US products.”

One result was a law passed in 2012 that sought to increase American Jobs through greater exports to Africa.

Commercial opportunities in Africa were also at the heart of the first ever US-Africa Leaders Summit in 2014. This saw the launch of the Doing Business in Africa campaign.

What now

The Trump administration’s expansion of the bombing of Somalia, its continuation of Bush and Obama era counterterrorism programmes, and its own new strategy for Africa suggest that policymakers continue to view the continent through a geopolitical lens.

The particular twist put on this by Trump is his emphasis on the competition the US faces from China – but this is hard to imagine given that China has just one military base in Africa.

But the Trump administration must learn from mistakes made in the recent past by Bush and Obama. This includes the negative impact US action has had in some instances. Take its support for the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006 and for the subsequent Ethiopian-led occupation force. These actions contributed to the development of Al Shabaab, the extreme Islamist group that merged with Al Qaeda in 2012 and began to conduct attacks in other countries.

report by the US Senate concluded that:

Al Qaeda is now a more sophisticated and dangerous organization in Africa… [It]s foothold in Somalia has probably been facilitated by the involvement of Western powers and their allies.

It is likely that US air strikes in Somalia “have only increased popular support for Al-Shabaab.”

More broadly, Washington’s internal security and capacity building initiatives have not worked. If anything, terrorism in Africa has worsenedwith the emergence of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

US policymakers need to think again about whether a security agenda based on US priorities and choices will always solve the problems sub-Saharan African states face.


Maria Ryan has received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

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VIDEO: Atiku arrives US after all the speculations

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has arrived in the United States of America.

He landed at the Washington Dulles International Airport on Thursday evening, accompanied by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

He hadn’t stepped on American soil for well over decade dating back to his vice presidency, allegedly due to the belief he would be arrested for allegations of corruption, including one by US congressman Williams Jefferson that part of the $100,000 cash found in his refrigerator was intended as bribe for Atiku for his role in helping American firm iGate secure a contract to expand broadband in Nigeria.

However, in October, Atiku Abubakar, Gbenga Daniel, Director-General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Orgsanisation (APCO), said his principal had received “signals from American officials” to apply for visa and it would be granted.

Despite the protestations of Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information, that the United States should exercise caution in granting visa to Atiku, it was reported in December that the visa had indeed been granted.

“Atiku will travel to the US any moment from now, and it could even be on Thursday,” a source very familiar with the development had told said late Wednesday. “He is still afraid the coast is not completely clear, and he could be harassed or arrested once he steps in. But I can authoritatively confirm that he will indeed be going to the US very, very, very soon.”

We need a high wall with a big gate

With Trump using immigration simply for political gain, Democrats need to be the adults and offer a realistic, comprehensive approach.

Kamala Harris, the Democratic senator from California, recently raised eyebrows when she asked Ronald Vitiello, President Trump’s nominee to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whether he appreciated the “perception” that ICE spreads “fear and intimidation” among immigrants the way the Ku Klux Klan did among blacks.

Harris carefully worded her question around the “perception” of ICE — and it was raised in part because Vitiello had once shamefully tweeted that Democrats were “the NeoKlanist party.” Nevertheless, with Harris a likely Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, Republican media pounced on her with variations of: “Hey voters, get this: Democrats think the ICE officers protecting you from illegal immigrants are like the K.K.K. You gonna vote for that?”

ICE does seem to have a bad culture, but it is not the K.K.K. At the same time, I don’t think the Democratic Party is just for open borders. Alas, though, I’m also not sure what exactly is the party’s standard on immigration — and questions like Harris’s leave it open to demonization.

Since Republicans have completely caved to Trump’s craven exploitation of immigration as a wedge issue, the country, as usual, needs the Democrats to be the adults and put forward a realistic, comprehensive approach to immigration, which now requires two parts.

The first is a way to think about the border and the second is a way to think about all the issues beyond the border — issues that are pushing migrants our way. You cannot think seriously about the first without thinking seriously about the second, and if you don’t, this week’s scenes of Customs and Border Protection officers firing tear gas to keep out desperate migrants near Tijuana will get a lot worse.

Regarding the border, the right place for Democrats to be is for a high wall with a big gate.

Democrats won’t do as well as they can nationallywithout assuring Americans that they’re committed to securing our borders; people can’t just walk in. But the country won’t do as well as it can in the 21st century unless it remains committed to a very generous legal immigration policy — and a realistic pathway to citizenship for illegals already here — to attract both high-energy, low-skilled workers and high-I.Q. risk takers.

They have been the renewable energy source of the American dream — and our secret advantage over China.

But thinking beyond the borderis where Democrats can really distinguish themselves; it’s where Trump has been recklessly AWOL.

This is how we got to where we are today: During the 19th and 20th centuries, the world shifted from being governed by large empires in many regions to being governed by independent nation-states. And the 50 years after World War II were a great time to be a weak little nation-state.

Why? Because there were two superpowers competing for your affection by throwing foreign aid at you, building your army, buying your cheap goods and educating your college students; climate change was moderate; populations were still under control in the developing world; no one had a cellphone to easily organize movements against your government; and China was not in the World Trade Organization, so everyone could be in textiles and other low-wage industries.

All of that switched in the early 21st century: Climate-driven extreme weather — floods, droughts, heat and cold — on top of man-made deforestation began to hammer many countries, especially their small-scale farmers. This happened right as developing-world populations exploded. Africa went from 140 million in 1900 to one billion in 2010 to a projected 2.5 billion by 2050.

Syria grew from three million people in 1950 to over 22 million today, which, along with droughts, totally stressed its water resources. Guatemala, the main source of the migrant caravan heading our way, has been ravaged by deforestation thanks to illegal logging, farmers cutting trees for firewood and drug traffickers creating landing strips and smuggling trails.

A satellite map just released by University of Cincinnati geography researchers demonstrated that nearly a quarter of the earth’s habitable surface changed between just 1992 and 2015, primarily from forests to agriculture, from grasslands to deserts and from wetlands to urban concrete.

Meanwhile, the internet has enabled citizens to easily compare their living standards with those in Paris or Phoenix — and find a human trafficker to take them there. Also, China joined the W.T.O., dominating low-wage industries, and the end of the Cold War meant no superpower wanted to touch your country, because all it would win was a bill.

So it’s now much harder to be an average little country. The most frail of them are hemorrhaging people, like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Sudan and most every nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Others — Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya — have just fractured.

Together, they’re creating vast zones of disorder, and many people want to get out of them into any zone of order, particularly America or Europe, triggering nationalist-populist backlashes.

Why? Because there were two superpowers competing for your affection by throwing foreign aid at you, building your army, buying your cheap goods and educating your college students; climate change was moderate; populations were still under control in the developing world; no one had a cellphone to easily organize movements against your government; and China was not in the World Trade Organization, so everyone could be in textiles and other low-wage industries.

All of that switched in the early 21st century: Climate-driven extreme weather — floods, droughts, heat and cold — on top of man-made deforestation began to hammer many countries, especially their small-scale farmers. This happened right as developing-world populations exploded. Africa went from 140 million in 1900 to one billion in 2010 to a projected 2.5 billion by 2050.

Syria grew from three million people in 1950 to over 22 million today, which, along with droughts, totally stressed its water resources. Guatemala, the main source of the migrant caravan heading our way, has been ravaged by deforestation thanks to illegal logging, farmers cutting trees for firewood and drug traffickers creating landing strips and smuggling trails.

A satellite map just released by University of Cincinnati geography researchers demonstrated that nearly a quarter of the earth’s habitable surface changed between just 1992 and 2015, primarily from forests to agriculture, from grasslands to deserts and from wetlands to urban concrete.

Meanwhile, the internet has enabled citizens to easily compare their living standards with those in Paris or Phoenix — and find a human trafficker to take them there. Also, China joined the W.T.O., dominating low-wage industries, and the end of the Cold War meant no superpower wanted to touch your country, because all it would win was a bill.

So it’s now much harder to be an average little country. The most frail of them are hemorrhaging people, like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Sudan and most every nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Others — Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya — have just fractured.

Together, they’re creating vast zones of disorder, and many people want to get out of them into any zone of order, particularly America or Europe, triggering nationalist-populist backlashes.

Melania Trump arrives Ghana, visits Accra hospital

US First Lady Melania Trump’s two-day visit to Ghana has kicked off with a visit to a hospital in the capital, Accra. Earlier on, she had tea with Ghana’s first lady at the presidential palace.

Melania Trump handed out blankets and teddy bears at an open-air clinic at Accra's Ridge Hospital. Photo: BBC

With support from the US Agency for International Development (USAid) Mrs Trump hopes to explore ways to support Ghana in enhancing healthcare for mothers and their newborns.

Her visit is also likely to boost tourism in Ghana, according to Information Minister Kojo Oppong-Nkruma.

But a Bloomberg journalist tweets that local reaction to the US first lady’s visit, however, has been underwhelming.

Some observers in Ghana say her visit is an indication of US President Donald Trump’s resolve to engage with African nations after largely ignoring the continent since his start in office.


Cover photo: Melania Trump handed out blankets and teddy bears at an open-air clinic at Accra’s Ridge Hospital. Photo: BBC

US First Lady Melania Trump is on her way on a trip to Africa

U.S. first lady Melania Trump departed for Africa on Monday for a four-country trip that serves as her first major solo sojourn abroad on behalf of her husband President Donald Trump’s administration.

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Mrs. Trump is scheduled to make stops in Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt in a nearly week-long trip to focus on children’s issues. She is due to arrive in Accra on Tuesday.

President Trump has not visited Africa since entering office in 2017, but he has garnered sharp criticism for reportedly referring to immigrants from African countries with a derogatory term.

“I was raped at 16 and I kept silent”

When I was 16 years old, I started dating a guy I met at the Puente Hills Mall in a Los Angeles suburb.

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I worked there after school at the accessories counter at Robinsons-May. He worked at a high-end men’s store. He would come in wearing a gray silk suit and flirt with me. He was in college, and I thought he was charming and handsome. He was 23.

When we went out, he would park the car and come in and sit on our couch and talk to my mother. He never brought me home late on a school night. We were intimate to a point, but he knew that I was a virgin and that I was unsure of when I would be ready to have sex.

On New Year’s Eve, just a few months after we first started dating, he raped me.

I have been turning that incident over in my head throughout the past week, as two women have come forward to detail accusations against the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Christine Blasey Ford said he climbed on her and covered her mouth during an attempted rape when they were both in high school, and Deborah Ramirez said he exposed himself to her when they were in college.

On Friday, President Trump tweeted that if what Dr. Blasey said was true, she would have filed a police report years ago. But I understand why both women would keep this information to themselves for so many years, without involving the police. For years, I did the same thing. On Friday, I tweeted about what had happened to me so many years ago.

You may want to know if I had been drinking on the night of my rape. It doesn’t matter, but I was not drunk. Maybe you will want to know what I was wearing or if I had been ambiguous about my desires. It still doesn’t matter, but I was wearing a long-sleeved, black Betsey Johnson maxi dress that revealed only my shoulders.

The two of us had gone to a couple of parties. Afterward, we went to his apartment. While we were talking, I was so tired that I lay on the bed and fell asleep.

The next thing I remember is waking up to a very sharp stabbing pain like a knife blade between my legs. He was on top of me. I asked, “What are you doing?” He said, “It will only hurt for a while.” “Please don’t do this,” I screamed.

The pain was excruciating, and as he continued, my tears felt like fear.

Afterward, he said, “I thought it would hurt less if you were asleep.” Then he drove me home.

I didn’t report it. Not to my mother, not to my friends and certainly not to the police. At first I was in shock. That evening, I let my mother know when I was home, then went to sleep, hoping to forget that night.

Soon I began to feel that it was my fault. We had no language in the 1980s for date rape. I imagined that adults would say: “What the hell were you doing in his apartment? Why were you dating someone so much older?”

I don’t think I classified it as rape — or even sex — in my head. I’d always thought that when I lost my virginity, it would be a big deal — or at least a conscious decision. The loss of control was disorienting. In my mind, when I one day had intercourse, it would be to express love, to share pleasure or to have a baby. This was clearly none of those things.

Later, when I had other boyfriends my senior year of high school and in my first year of college, I lied to them — I said I was still a virgin. Emotionally, I still was.

When I think about it now, I realize that by the time of this rape, I had already absorbed certain lessons. When I was 7 years old, my stepfather’s relative touched me between my legs and put my hand on his erect penis. Shortly after I told my mother and stepfather, they sent me to India for a year to live with my grandparents. The lesson was: If you speak up, you will be cast out.

These experiences have affected me and my ability to trust. It took me decades to talk about this with intimate partners and a therapist.

Some say a man shouldn’t pay a price for an act he committed as a teenager. But the woman pays the price for the rest of her life, and so do the people who love her.

I think if I had at the time named what happened to me as rape — and told others — I might have suffered less. Looking back, I now think I let my rapist off the hook and I let my 16-year-old self down.

I have a daughter now. She’s 8. For years I’ve been telling her the simplest and most obvious words that it took me much of my life to understand: “If anybody touches you in your privates or makes you feel uncomfortable, you yell loud. You get out of there and tell somebody. Nobody is allowed to put their hands on you. Your body is yours.”

Now, 32 years after my rape, I am stating publicly what happened. I have nothing to gain by talking about this. But we all have a lot to lose if we put a time limit on telling the truth about sexual assault and if we hold on to the codes of silence that for generations have allowed men to hurt women with impunity.

One in four girls and one in six boys today will be sexually abused before the age of 18. I am speaking now because I want us all to fight so that our daughters never know this fear and shame and our sons know that girls’ bodies do not exist for their pleasure and that abuse has grave consequences.

Those messages should be very clear as we consider whom we appoint to make decisions on the highest court of our land.


Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) is the host and executive producer of “Top Chef,” the author of books including “Love, Loss and What We Ate” and an A.C.L.U. ambassador for immigration and women’s rights.

A version of this article appeared on The New York with the headline: I Was Raped at 16 and I Kept Silent.

Trump is expanding C.I.A. Drone Mission in Africa that Obama curtailed

The C.I.A. is poised to conduct secret drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State insurgents from a newly expanded air base deep in the Sahara, making aggressive use of powers that were scaled back during the Obama administration and restored by President Trump.

In this photo taken Monday, April 16, 2018, a U.S. and Niger flag are raised side by side at the base camp for air forces and other personnel supporting the construction of Niger Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger. On the scorching edge of the Sahara Desert, the U.S. Air Force is building a base for armed drones, the newest front in America's battle against the growing extremist threat in Africa's vast Sahel region. Three hangars and the first layers of a runway command a sandy, barren field. Niger Air Base 201 is expected to be functional early next year. (AP Photo/Carley Petesch)

Late in his presidency, Barack Obama sought to put the military in charge of drone attacks after a backlash arose over a series of highly visible strikes, some of which killed civilians. The move was intended, in part, to bring greater transparency to attacks that the United States often refused to acknowledge its role in.

But now the C.I.A. is broadening its drone operations, moving aircraft to northeastern Niger to hunt Islamist militants in southern Libya. The expansion adds to the agency’s limited covert missions in eastern Afghanistan for strikes in Pakistan, and in southern Saudi Arabia for attacks in Yemen.

Nigerien and American officials said the C.I.A. had been flying drones on surveillance missions for several months from a corner of a small commercial airport in Dirkou. Satellite imagery shows that the airport has grown significantly since February to include a new taxiway, walls and security posts.

One American official said the drones had not yet been used in lethal missions, but would almost certainly be in the near future, given the growing threat in southern Libya. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secretive operations.

A C.I.A. spokesman, Timothy Barrett, declined to comment. A Defense Department spokeswoman, Maj. Sheryll Klinkel, said the military had maintained a base at the Dirkou airfield for several months but did not fly drone missions from there.

The drones take off from Dirkou at night — typically between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. — buzzing in the clear, starlit desert sky. A New York Times reporter saw the gray aircraft — about the size of Predator drones, which are 27 feet long — flying at least three times over six days in early August. Unlike small passenger planes that land occasionally at the airport, the drones have no blinking lights signaling their presence.

“All I know is they’re American,” Niger’s interior minister, Mohamed Bazoum, said in an interview. He offered few other details about the drones.

Dirkou’s mayor, Boubakar Jerome, said the drones had helped improve the town’s security. “It’s always good. If people see things like that, they’ll be scared,” Mr. Jerome said.

Mr. Obama had curtailed the C.I.A.’s lethal role by limiting its drone flights, notably in Yemen. Some strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere that accidentally killed civilians, stirring outrage among foreign diplomats and military officials, were shielded because of the C.I.A.’s secrecy.

As part of the shift, the Pentagon was given the unambiguous lead for such operations. The move sought, in part, to end an often awkward charade in which the United States would not concede its responsibility for strikes that were abundantly covered by news organizations and tallied by watchdog groups. However, the C.I.A. program was not fully shut down worldwide, as the agency and its supporters in Congress balked.

The drone policy was changed last year, after Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director at the time, made a forceful case to President Trump that the agency’s broader counterterrorism efforts were being needlessly constrained. The Dirkou base was already up and running by the time Mr. Pompeo stepped down as head of the C.I.A. in April to become Mr. Trump’s secretary of state.

The Pentagon’s Africa Command has carried out five drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State militants in Libya this year, including one two weeks ago. The military launches its MQ-9 Reaper drones from bases in Sicily and in Niamey, Niger’s capital, 800 miles southwest of Dirkou.

But the C.I.A. base is hundreds of miles closer to southwestern Libya, a notorious haven for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that also operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad, Mali and Algeria. It is also closer to southern Libya than a new $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, 350 miles west of Dirkou, where the Pentagon plans to operate armed Reaper drone missions by early next year.

Another American official said the C.I.A. began setting up the base in January to improve surveillance of the region, partly in response to an ambush last fall in another part of Niger that killed four American troops. The Dirkou airfield was labeled a United States Air Force base as a cover, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential operational matters.

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Dirkou is an oasis town of a few thousand people in the open desert, 300 miles south of the Libyan border. Photo: Joe Penney for The New York Times

The town has a handful of narrow, sandy roads. Small trees dot the horizon. Date and neem trees line the streets, providing shelter for people escaping the oppressive midday heat. There is a small market, where goods for sale include spaghetti imported from Libya. Gasoline is also imported from Libya and is cheaper than elsewhere in the country.

The drones based in Dirkou are loud, and their humming and buzzing drowns out the bleats of goats and crows of roosters.

“It stops me from sleeping,” said Ajimi Koddo, 45, a former migrant smuggler. “They need to go. They go in our village, and it annoys us too much.”

Satellite imagery shows that construction started in February on a new compound at the Dirkou airstrip. Since then, the facility has been extended to include a larger paved taxiway and a clamshell tent connected to the airstrip — all features that are consistent with the deployment of small aircraft, possibly drones.

Five defensive positions were set up around the airport, and there appear to be new security gates and checkpoints both to the compound and the broader airport.

It’s not the first time that Washington has eyed with interest Dirkou’s tiny base. In the late 1980s, the United States spent $3.2 million renovating the airstrip in an effort to bolster Niger’s government against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, then the leader of Libya.

Compared with other parts of Africa, the C.I.A.’s presence in the continent’s northwest is relatively light, according to a former State Department official who served in the region. In this part of Niger, the C.I.A. is also providing training and sharing intelligence, according to a Nigerien military intelligence document reviewed by The Times.

The Nigerien security official said about a dozen American Green Berets were stationed earlier this year in Dirkou — in a base separate from the C.I.A.’s — to train a special counterterrorism battalion of local forces. Those trainers left about three months ago, the official said.

It is unlikely that they will return anytime soon. The Pentagon is considering withdrawing nearly all American commandos from Niger in the wake of the deadly October ambush that killed four United States soldiers.

Joe Penney reported from Dirkou, Niger, Eric Schmitt from Washington and Rukmini Callimachi and Christoph Koettl from New York. Omar Hama Saley contributed reporting from Agadez, Niger, Dionne Searcey from Dakar, Senegal, and Helene Cooper from Washington.


A version of this article was published on the New York with the headline: Drone Missions Curbed by Obama Expand in Africa.

Cover photo: In this photo taken Monday, April 16, 2018, a U.S. and Niger flag are raised side by side at the base camp for air forces and other personnel supporting the construction of Niger Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger. On the scorching edge of the Sahara Desert, the U.S. Air Force is building a base for armed drones, the newest front in America’s battle against the growing extremist threat in Africa’s vast Sahel region. Three hangars and the first layers of a runway command a sandy, barren field. Niger Air Base 201 is expected to be functional early next year. (AP Photo/Carley Petesch)

Left or Right wing?

By Samuel Sola Micheal


The political terms LEFT & RIGHT were coined during the French Revolution (1789–1799), referring to the seating arrangement in the Estates General: those who sat on the left generally opposed the monarchy & supported the revolution, including the creation of a republic and secularization, while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions of the Old Regime.

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Indepth understanding & analysis of the French Revolution provide an insight as to the core meaning of Right Wing or Left Wing politics.

Many people call themselves Leftists without understanding what it entails, while some unknowingly belong to the Right Wing.

The Left Wing(Leftist) shares the ideology of egalitarianism & social equality as opposed to social hierarchy & social inequality.

It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished (by advocating for social justice).

On the other hand, we have the Right Wings who hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics or tradition. Hierarchy & inequality may be viewed as natural results of traditional social differences or the competition in market economies.

The original Right in France was formed as a reaction against the Left, & comprised those politicians supporting hierarchy, tradition & clericalism.


Cover photo: To many people outside the US, the way the US government has been organized may be somewhat eccentric. First, the Founders established 3 branches of government: the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary. However, the Legislature actually has 2 distinct houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. But do you know the purpose of the US Senate?

There may be ‘violence’ if GOP loses midterms – Donald Trump warns

President heard urging Christian ministers to sway voters and alluding to leftwing violence in leaked audio.

Donald Trump

In a private meeting with Christian ministers, Donald Trump warned of “violence” if Republicans do not maintain control of Congress in the midterm elections, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by the New York Times.

At a state dinner for evangelical Christian ministers on Monday night at the White House, Trump urged religious leaders to use the power of their pulpits to make sure that “all of your people vote” in November, the New York Times reported.

“You’re one election away from losing everything you’ve got,” Trump reportedly told them.

If Republicans lose Congress, “they will end everything immediately”, the president said, seemingly referring to Congressional Democrats.

He went on: “They will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently. And violently. There’s violence. When you look at antifa, and you look at some of these groups, these are violent people.”

The Times reported that these additional remarks did not make clear “whom he was talking about”.

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request to clarify whether the president was referring to congressional Democrats as “violent people”, or to comment on what connection the president was alleging between establishment Democratic lawmakers and young anti-fascist protesters.

Trump’s comments appear to echo the rhetoric of political advertisements from the rightwing National Rifle Association. In a much-criticized video advertisement last year, the gun rights group used footage from street protests to paint the entire American left, and all Americans who oppose president Trump, as violent thugs who “bully and terrorize the law-abiding”. The ad’s incendiary rhetoric was sharply criticized, with one critic calling it “a whisper shy of a call for full civil war”.

Over the past two years, as emboldened neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups have staged public rallies and marches across the United States, black-clad anti-fascist protesters, or “antifa”, have shown up to demonstrate against them. Anti-fascist protesters argue that the best way to prevent American neo-Nazis from growing more powerful is to make them afraid to meet or demonstrate in public.

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White supremacists and neo-Nazis exchange insults with anti-fascist protesters at last year’s rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Many of the rightwing groups that “antifa” demonstrators show up to protest are self-described fascists. But the tactics of direct street protest and physical confrontation remain controversial among many Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike.

The protest behavior of “antifa” has become a favorite topic for Republicans looking to deflect attention from the activities of violent white supremacist extremists who greeted Trump’s presidency as a victory, and who advocate publicly for a whites-only nation.

During the violent neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August, white supremacists attacked black residents and protesting local ministers, and clashed with anti-fascist protesters in the streets. Afterwards, Trump repeatedly condemned “both sides” for the violence.

Local Charlottesville residents who had showed up to protest the white supremacists, and found themselves as the targets of violence while police officers stood by, had a different opinion.

“Antifa saved my life twice on Saturday,” the Rev Seth Wispelway, a local minister from Charlottesville, told Slate in the wake of last August’s violence.


Cover photo: On August 23, US President Donald Trump tweeted that he has asked Mike Pompeo to study the seizing of farms and ‘large scale killings of farmers’ in South Africa [AP Photo/Evan Vucci]