Sunday, June 24, 2007

No home for AFRICOM

The US European Command (EUCOM) has Germany and Central Command (CENTCOM) has Qatar, but we seem to be having a wee bit of a problem finding a home for the planned Africa Command (AFRICOM).
A U.S. delegation seeking a home for a new military command in Africa got a chilly reception during a tour of the northern half of the continent this month, running into opposition even in countries that enjoy friendly relations with the Pentagon.

Algeria and Libya separately ruled out hosting the Defense Department's planned Africa Command, known as AFRICOM, and said they were firmly against any of their neighbors doing so either. U.S. diplomats said they were disappointed by the depth of opposition, given that the Bush administration has bolstered ties with both countries on security matters in recent years.

Morocco, which has been mentioned as a possible site for the new command and is one of the strongest U.S. allies in the region, didn't roll out the welcome mat, either. After the U.S. delegation visited Rabat, the capital, on June 11, the Moroccan foreign ministry strongly denied a claim by an opposition political party that the kingdom had already offered to host AFRICOM. A ministry statement called the claim "baseless information."
No big mysteries why either of these countries turned us can be explained in one word, which starts with "I" and ends with "slam", as Mark Steyn would say. Though I'm not entirely sure why we even bothered approaching Libya.

The rest of the WaPo article would have you believe that the reason for the widespread rejection is opposition to American heavy-handedness in the war against Islamic terror. But if you manage to make your way to the last two paragraphs, you'll find the real reason:
The North African counterterrorism partnership is headed by the State Department and also includes economic and humanitarian aid programs delivered by civil affairs units. But Tlemcani, the Algerian political scientist, said the U.S. government needed to do much more on those fronts before taking a more prominent military role in Africa.

"The best way to build a strategic relationship is with socioeconomic programs, which haven't been funded very well," he said by telephone from Beirut.
The money. It's all about the money.

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