Expert Explains Tillerson's Africa Trip Goals

© AP Photo / Pablo Martinez MonsivaisSecretary of State Rex Tillerson gestures during a interview with the Associated Press at the State Department in Washington, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gestures during a interview with the Associated Press at the State Department in Washington, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 - Sputnik International
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With US secretary of State Rex Tillerson Embarking on a week-long trip to Africa, he is expected to smooth out the somewhat strained relations between the Trump White House and the developing world. Sputnik spoke with John Stremlau, Professor of International Relations at Witwatersrand University In Cape Town South Africa for further analysis.

Sputnik: what do you believe Rex Tillerson’s aims are for the trip?

John Stremlau: It’s very difficult to know what’s behind this trip, as you know Donald Trump insulted Africans two months ago in his reference to immigration, saying that these countries in Africa are all analogous to dirty toilets.

He sent Tillerson on a tour to re-affirm America’s respect and interest in the continent, but now Tillerson is only going to the five countries in the arc of instability in Sub-Saharan and Northern Africa and he seems to be only interested in counter-terrorism.

The statement initially said that he would be interested in issues such as economics, trade and good governance and the other items that have been on the US — Africa agenda for around thirty years, so consequently it’s very hard to nail down the specificities of the trip.

Sputnik: How serious is the threat of insurgency in Africa?

John Stremlau: It certainly seems to be very serious indeed, it’s complex, related to climate change and fundamentalist movements, and a spill over from Syria and similar situations in the Middle East, so consequently it’s hard to predict what will happen.

What is often overlooked is that this is not the story of Africa. It’s only five countries out of over fifty and the trends that are going on for economic development, public health, education and agriculture, and governance have all been ignored and papered over by the constant talk of Boko Haram, or other insurgent movements in the arc of instability. It’s only in small areas relative to the rest of the continent.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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