The chess board of global politics aligns and changes itself with every slight move in international politics so quickly and sharply that one has to be on a constant vigil least one might be at the receiving end.
After the demise of the Soviet Union world remained unipolar for more than two decades. Russia attacked Ukraine last February as a recourse to signify its value after 1990 as the strong successor of the USSR, ready and doing anything for the reclamation of its foregone glory.
While Moscow is busy with the invasion of Ukraine, Beijing is planning to carefully move its pawns into the African continent. This movement and alignment was speedup after the visit of the US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August 2022.
China wanted worldwide support for its “One China Policy”, claiming its sovereignty over Taipei which it considers a recalcitrant and breakaway province of theirs.
Beijing very tacitly and expertly played upon the raking nerve of the African countries remembering the failed and destructive interference of NATO in Libya in 2011.
China called this visit of Speaker Pelosi a preparatory ground for West intrusion on its mainland.
Egypt, Somalia, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa all vehemently supported Beijing’s stance on Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
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Mogadishu officially condemned this visit of Speaker Pelosi terming it an outrageous interference in the internal affairs of China and called Taiwan an integral and inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China.
The similarity between Taiwan and Somaliland which Mogadishu considers a breakaway province that has to be brought under its sovereignty led them to this condemnation.
The two breakaway provinces or parts as China and Somalia claims on Taiwan and Somaliland have strengthened their bilateral ties on the presumed assumption of their similar political, economic, and geographic positions to Beijing and Mogadishu.
Both Beijing and Washington are using the African continent as a new emerging chessboard for their economic, political and military mileage.
Scramble for Africa Renewed
This is the new Great Scramble for Africa of the 21st century. The previous Great Scramble for Africa began at the end of the 19th century when European powers vied with each other African colonies till the start of WWI. The only reception was Ethiopia and Liberia, not colonized by any power.
This is the reason why they are on a tightrope to balance Beijing and Washington. This is the dilemma of why they cannot openly condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine nor do they support Kyiv in this war out rightly.
They are caught between the devil and deep sea. For example in an assumed scenario of Beijing attacking Taipei, those African countries in which China have invested heavily would be unable to condemn China nor would they risk straining their relations with Beijing.
On the other hand, if they support China’s stance, Washington would come hard on them in the guise of sections, stopping or reducing foreign aid to them.
In August 2021, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinker’s visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Rwanda was the new strategy arrangement of the US in Africa.
This new strategy of the Biden administration is in contrast with Trump’s policy of prospering Africa which was premised on Beijing-countering. This new Biden African strategy depicts the African continent not as a continent of great powers rivalries but as an area of cooperation between great ones.
New US strategy for Africa
The new US strategy for Africa places the continent on a very positive and cooperative paradigm. Africa is no longer seen as a threat and problem but rather as an active participant in the solution of problems focusing on socioeconomic, political, and security changes that are now occurring on this continent.
The new strategy separates Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries. Enlisting new priorities and solutions for the MENA.
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The Biden administration is undergoing to overhaul of the traditional US policy of military strength and power with economic development, good governance, and climate and nature preservation in the African continent. With the sole aim to alienate African countries from China and magnetizing them with Washington.
The four keys of this new strategy are,
- Helping and supporting the Opening of African societies for new changes of 21 century.
- Development and cooperation in health and economic fields.
- Democratization and Securitization in the continent.
- Nature and climate protection with a special focus on equal energy distribution for all.
The new strategy stresses linking different African countries with each other plus also using the African-American communities for getting and developing these strategic goals for the US.
The proposed strategy would for the first time also include the African countries in its discussion of the Indian Pacific comprising 40 countries. These African countries who were previously ousted from this discussion either knowingly or unknowingly now form an important part of US interests and strategy for the Indian Pacific.
This mental map or notion is generally limited to Asia to the Americas with no reference to Africa. Even though they constitute an important subpart of the Eastern Indo-Pacific, a sub region of the very vast Indo-Pacific stretching from the Indian Ocean (Asia) to the Pacific Ocean (Americas and Europe).
These African countries are bio-geographically subpart of the Indian Ocean.
The US along with its allies would try to make sure of a fully free and safer Indian Pacific region for their national and strategic interests.
With all their support and allurements, African countries view the US with suspicion and incredulity. They are of the view that the US interests and hinging in the continent change very often. Instead of this, they watch keenly the Chinese and Russian socio-economic models.
Only a very minute population of this continent has been inculcated against Coronavirus. The reason is the unavailability of vaccines for this continent which the African leaders, media, and population call the Vaccine Apartheid.
What would be the outcome of this new strategy both for Africa and US solely depending on how Washington carries out this strategy and how and at what level Africa cooperates with it?
Continuity and consistency are the key factors of any policy whether any side pursues it for any objective.