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Witness
America's New Frontline
Rageh Omaar investigates the US military and political strategy for Africa.
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2009 08:58 GMT



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The US is bound by shared history to Africa  - a history that has been a source of much pain and conflict.

Recently, however, there have been two significant developments which may define the relationship between the US and Africa for decades to come.

The first is a legacy of the Bush administration - a brand new military command for Africa - called Africom.

The second is the election of Barack Obama, a man with African roots, as US president.

In a special two-part series Rageh Omaar travels to the US and through East and West Africa to investigate the American strategy for the continent.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Africom was a consequence of the so-called war on terror. In Somalia, Rageh explores how this war created the very threat – a violent Jihadi movement – it claimed to be fighting, and what this meant for Somalia's future.

Moving north, Rageh looks at US involvement with governments in the Sahel, a region rich in mineral resources. Africom troops are providing arms, military support and training in response to a perceived extremist threat.

But critics say, the threat is internal dissent and US policy risks creating, as in Somalia, the real issue.

The Delta region of West Africa provides Africom's biggest dilemma. Rich in oil resources, the region is vital to US future energy needs.

Africom offers military training to local governments here – including Cameroonian troops involved in the brutal suppression of their own people.

Can Obama make a decisive break with the path set in Africa by the Bush administration? Until rhetoric is seen to govern practice, Obama and Africom seem set to repeat past mistakes and become further involved in a messy, self-fulfilling prophecy.

America's New Frontline: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? can be seen on Sunday, December 13 at the following times GMT: Sunday: 1400; Monday: 0600 and 1900; Tuesday: 0300.

Diplomats or Warriors?



Watch part two                   Watch part three                         Watch part four

In October 2008, the US formally launched Africom, a new military command for Africa.

Rageh investigates the genesis of Africom – the critical combination of the Bush administration's neo-con world view, the increasing panic about access to natural resources and the launch of the so-called war on terror.

One of the new programmes involves training forces in Rwanda, the army of a government that was previously accused of undermining democracy.

Africom provided logistical and intelligence support to the Ugandan army (UPDF) in 2008, in operations against rebel forces, thus embroiling itself indirectly in an African war.

The UPDF is strongly associated with Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan president, who changed the country's constitution to extend his term of office indefinitely.

In July 2009, Obama promoted sustainable democracy, good governance and peaceful resolution of conflict fo the African continent.

Africom's complex relationships in Uganda, Rwanda and other African countries highlight the dilemma Obama faces.

Can he extract the new command from the legacy of the Bush administration and turn US-African relations in a new direction?

America's New Frontline: Diplomats or Warriors? can be seen on Sunday, December 6 at the following times GMT: Sunday: 1400; Monday: 0600 and 1900; Tuesday: 0300. 

Source:
Al Jazeera
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