Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Informed Opinion - Bush, Obama & Africa's Muslims

Some of the stuff I've been reading today reflect varying opinion on the import of George Bush's exit from and the arrival of Barack Obama on the world stage.

Fareed Zakaria examines the claim that Bush's major achievement was in keeping America safe after 9/11. In a Washington Post article titled - He Kept Us Safe, but..., the Newsweek Editor stated as follows:

"But certainly, post-Sept. 11, Bush has kept us safe. Just as Jacques Chirac kept France safe and Gerhard Schroeder kept Germany safe. Tony Blair, alas, failed this test. He did not keep Britain safe" He went further to explain what appears to be an obvious fact by saying:

"The problem for Britain (and Spain, which also had a serious terrorist attack after Sept. 11) is that pockets of its immigrant community are alienated. This, coupled with the rise of radical Islam, proved a combustible mix, producing a problem that all the counterterrorism in the world can't solve because it is not about people entering the country -- who can be stopped -- but those already inside. The most significant difference between the United States and most other countries that have had major terrorist attacks is that the United States does not have a resentful Muslim community."

But it seems that the resentment among some of Africa's Muslim community toward America might be on the rise. Azu Ishiekwene, writing in The Punch today, notes that:

"It is a striking irony that Africa, which has given the U.S. its 44th president, is the same continent that produced the two ranking Al-Queda members killed by U.S. drones in a New Year strike in Pakistan. Usama al Kini and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, the two Kenyans killed in the strike"

He goes on to a more fundamental observation and two questions:

"The increasing active role played by sub-Saharan Africans in the operations of Islamic fundamentalist networks is one of the challenges that the Obama administration would have to grapple with in the coming years. These challenges raise important questions: How many more al Kinis are being nurtured in terror cells in a continent festering with wars, narco-trade, corruption, and failed governments? What factors are responsible for the ascendancy of sub-Saharan Africans in a terror network that was once dominated by Middle Eastern types?"

In providing the answers to these questions lie the thrust of the Obama Administration's engagement with African governments, especially those with sizeable populations where radical Islam finds a potent mix with massive youth unemployment and lack of opportunity. While there will no doubt be a lot of focus on the effects of this mix, serious attention also needs to be paid to the causes as well.

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