US will continue to face challenges in Africa

China Military Online
Li Jiayao
2024-05-29 11:48:12

By Ma Hanzhi

The US President Joe Biden hosted visiting Kenyan President William Ruto in Washington and announced the designation of Kenya as a major non-NATO ally last week. Under the global spotlight, the Biden administration clearly hoped to demonstrate its emphasis on Africa through this gesture. However, behind the fanfare, the reality is that the US continues to face challenges in Africa, and its promises to prioritize Africa often become empty slogans.

The continuous setbacks in Africa have significantly dampened expectations, both domestically and internationally, regarding America's Africa strategy. What happened with Niger last year, which demanded the withdrawal of US troops after its coup d'état, and other setbacks have left the Biden administration unable to react properly. From a broader perspective, US' major setbacks in Africa essentially stem from the irreconcilable contradiction between its obsession with maintaining hegemony and Africa's pursuit of independence and autonomy.

The Biden administration proposed a new strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022, emphasizing the importance of Africa, but this promise was quickly "belied". Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US has imposed pressure on African countries by all means to force them to take sides in total disregard of their escalating energy crisis, food crisis, and financial crisis. Meanwhile, the US-led Western countries have shifted their focus of foreign aid towards Ukraine, significantly reducing aid to Africa. Dissatisfied with the pressure and even threats from the US and other nations, African countries have generally maintained a neutral stance on the Ukraine issue while working with each other in solidarity to accelerate their own independent development. It is against such a background that the Global South, represented by Africa, has been rising.

Similarly, in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US and other Western countries are both hyping the so-called threat from China and Russia on the international stage, instigating confrontations, fostering hatred, and making their stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict the standard for distinguishing friends from foes. At the same time, they turn a blind eye to the large-scale casualties and humanitarian disasters caused by civil wars or local conflicts in African countries such as Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This has further exposed to African countries what the US policies towards Africa really are, and quickened their steps to try to solve their problems on their own.

Now, Washington hopes to expand its influence in Africa through military and security interactions with Kenya, but that won't be easy. The US' sudden interest in the security of the Horn of Africa still stems from major power competition - its sole purpose is to prevent Russia, China, and others from "filling the void," which contradicts with the local people's security demands. As Africa has a stronger will and capability to independently address its problems, the US, which only takes security as a tool for to reinforce its hegemony, is sure to meet more setbacks in Africa.

(The author is a scholar at the Department for Developing Countries Studies, China Institute of International Studies.)

Editor's note: Originally published on, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of

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