Despite all the talk of US withdrawal from world problems, last weekend’s terror attack in Kenya appears to be boosting chances that US engagement in Africa will grow:
U.S. officials on Tuesday were shipping law-enforcement equipment to local police in Nairobi, two U.S. officials said. Both said they expected Kenya to formalize more-specific requests for counterterrorism assistance, after Kenya’s government regroups from a four-day militant siege at Nairobi’s upscale Westgate mall that ended late Tuesday, leaving 61 civilians dead.
U.S. diplomats and law-enforcement officials have provided tactical guidance to manage the crisis as well as medical assistance for the victims, a senior administration official said. Intelligence cooperation, which has long been a staple of the U.S.-Kenyan relationship, has also stepped up.
President Obama’s had hoped to center his African policy on promoting business, commerce and trade. It looks like those might not be the only issues on the agenda.
The difficult reality is that the level of US engagement in the world is threat driven. The persistence of terror threats continues to pull the US toward deeper security involvements in parts of the world that are at risk. Africa is no exception.