US strengthens position in Horn of Africa, including Sudan

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun May 25 08:06:31 MDT 2003



Just in case you have noticed the recent decline in the media's  moral
outrage over the persistence of the horrors of slavery in Sudan,
here's an explanation (as well as some other interesting information).
The slavery-type social relations haven't gone away nor have the
horrors, but Washington's relations with Sudan have improved some.
Stratfor is a business-oriented conservative think tank.

Fred Feldman



STRATFOR'S GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT http://www.stratfor.com
23 May 2003

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Featured On Stratfor Today, For Members Only:
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Today's Featured Analysis

U.S. Presence in Egypt's Backyard: A Recipe for Conflict

Summary

The United States is expanding its security presence in the Horn of
Africa region as part of its war on al Qaeda. The involvement will
create a strategic dilemma for Cairo and a reason for future
disagreement with Washington.

Analysis

The United States is slowly but surely expanding its influence in East
African and Horn of Africa states -- including Ethiopia, Djibouti,
Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan. The net effect is that Washington's
intelligence-gathering capabilities, military-to- military contact and
relationship with Horn government leaders has burgeoned -- and the
United States is more assured that al Qaeda will not be able to use
the area as a base of future operations.

The U.S. tactical goal -- denying al Qaeda sanctuary in the Horn --
will create a strategic dilemma for Egypt. A close U.S. ally and one
of the leading Arab states, Egypt considers the Horn its natural
sphere of influence and is wary of the growing U.S. influence in the
region. The result will be a recipe for conflict between Cairo and
Washington in the long term.

The Horn of Africa and Sudan are a matter of national security in
Egypt. The Nile -- the Egyptian lifeline -- flows from central Africa
and Ethiopia and through Sudan on its way to the Mediterranean. Any
change in the political landscape in either Khartoum or Addis Ababa
could impact Egypt's share of the Nile waters, and for this reason,
Cairo has traditionally played an active role in the Horn and Sudan's
internal politics. An unfettered U.S. security presence in the region
will weaken Egyptian influence there, which in turn will directly
increase the threat to Egyptian national security.

Egypt now is trying to balance its relationship with the United States
with its national imperative to retain predominant influence in the
Horn region and Sudan. Egypt is economically and militarily in the
U.S. back pocket. Egyptian-U.S. trade totaled $4.2 billion in 2002,
according to Egyptian government officials, and Cairo now is hosting a
U.S. trade delegation as part of an ongoing effort to obtain a free
trade agreement. Washington also gives Cairo more than $1 billion
annually in military aid.

The vehicle for greater U.S. involvement is the U.S.-led Combined
Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa anti-terrorism unit, which recently
moved its headquarters from the USS Whitney, stationed in the Gulf of
Aden, to a base in Djibouti. The 1,800-plus-member task force, to be
headquartered at Camp Lemonier, will be responsible for
counterterrorism activity in Kenya, Yemen, Djibouti, Eritrea,
Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia.

It also might establish a base in Khartoum, from which U.S. military
transport planes will deliver supplies to Sudan even though the U.S.
State Department still lists the war-torn country as a state sponsor
of terrorism. The task force also is conducting anti-al Qaeda
operations in Ethiopia and southern Somalia, and training Ethiopian
forces in counterterrorism activities.

The Sudanese government announced in late May that it had approved 12
U.S. energy companies that want to invest in Sudan's oil sector.
Officials in Khartoum said the government hoped the companies would
help convince Washington to lift economic sanctions that currently
prohibit U.S. firms from doing business in Sudan. The United States
imposed additional sanctions as punishment for Khartoum's former
cooperation with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who lived in the
East African country in the mid-1990s.

Though not likely to happen in the near future, Washington might
consider easing the sanctions. In mid-May, two other events occurred
that signal a significant step in U.S.-Sudanese cooperation. On May
16, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Uthman Ismail traveled to
Washington to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. State
Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said after the meeting that Sudan
"is not the kind of haven for terrorists that it used to be and has
been quite cooperative."

A day later, a U.S. military C130 Hercules landed in Khartoum on a
logistics support mission for the U.S. anti-terrorism task force. It
was the first time in a decade that a U.S. military aircraft landed in
Sudan and indicates a high level of military and intelligence
cooperation.

But Sudan is critical to Egypt. Cairo already has decried U.S. support
for southern rebels in Sudan. At this stage, the U.S. and Egyptian
interests are not in complete alignment -- but not in direct
opposition either. Washington is mediating a peace plan in Sudan that
will give the southern half of the country an opportunity to vote for
secession from Khartoum. The vote is several years off, and that gives
Cairo plenty of time to come up with means for preventing the
partition of the country, which it vehemently opposes.

Washington ultimately wants to prevent the governments in Khartoum,
Addis Ababa, Asmara, Djibouti or Mogadishu from ever providing support
to al Qaeda or other groups seeking to threaten U.S. interests. To
secure this goal, it will need to retain a heavy hand in the region
for a while. Currently, Egypt can neither gainsay the stationing of
U.S. military and intelligence officers in the Horn or Sudan nor
confront Washington. Cairo can deal with a short-term U.S. involvement
but not a long-term rivalry in its backyard.
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