Can the Trump administration stop China from taking over a key African port? (Part 2/2)
Posted Date: Monday, April 9, 2018
Part of the problem in Djibouti is that the government, led by longtime president Ismail Omar Guelleh, is widely suspected of gross corruption and stands accused of horrendous human rights violations. Guelleh simply might not be interested in cooperation based on Western values. That has led some to argue that the United States would be better off moving its Africa base to another location, such as the relatively stable and democratic autonomous region of Somaliland.
Waldhauser says the Djibouti location is so strategic, we can’t afford to lose it. If that’s so, the United States must come up with a plan to bring Djibouti back into the fold through real incentives for increased cooperation and real consequences if Guelleh does sell out to Beijing.
The Chinese courtship of Africa centers around big infrastructure projects and developing close relationships with corrupt officials. The United States must offer a real alternative, including increased economic, humanitarian and development assistance tied to programs that help Africans help themselves.
China’s Africa strategy is not bound by concerns over good governance, human rights or the economic benefit of regular Africans, only the interests of Beijing and the rulers it co-opts. If Tillerson’s pitch for American partnership is to be more than mere rhetoric, the Trump administration must counter Chinese malign activities and then get in the game.