“Fraying Bonds: The Erosion of U.S.-Africa Relations

Recently, thousands of supporters of the takeover flocked to the French embassy in the nation’s capital, days after the democratically elected president of Niger was overthrown in a military coup, to send a clear message to their former colonial power and its Western allies. Tension-filled scenes played out down the street as pro-coup Nigeriens screamed “long live Putin” and “down with France” as a plaque at the embassy was demolished, while President Mohamed Bazoum was being held captive by his army in the presidential palace in Niamey. Some of them were waving Russian flags. In a written statement honoring Niger’s Independence Day, US President Joe Biden demanded Bazoum’s immediate release and stated that Washington “stands with the people of Niger” as the nation faces a “grave challenge to its democracy.” Undoubtedly, US influence in African politics is continuously witnessing a repression.

Africa, the home of humanity and a continent with a wide variety of cultures, ecosystems, and potentials, has reached a turning point in its ties with the United States. An alliance that was once promising and based on respect, cooperation, and common goals has been deteriorating over the past few years. Concerns about global stability and collaboration as well as the development of Africa are raised by the deterioration of US relations with that continent.

For many years, the United States and Africa have had a complicated relationship punctuated by times of cooperation and sporadic conflict. During the Cold War, both sides looked for allies and support for their separate conflicts. However, when democratic government, human rights, and economic development became shared objectives following the end of the Cold War, new opportunities for cooperation emerged. In 2000, the United States made a positive step forward by supporting the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Unfortunately, there has been a marked downturn in the relationship between the United States and Africa lately, raising questions about the ramifications for both sides. This decline has been caused by a number of important factors.

Strategically speaking, the United States’ interests have shifted away from Africa and towards other parts of the world. The trust that formerly supported the cooperation has been eroded as a result of this change, leaving African nations feeling ignored and undervalued.

There is another reason of cold relation between US and African states which revolves around the sentiments of the emerging energetic leaders in Africa, who blame neo-imperialists of lagging behind in the ambit of progress and development.

A slave who cannot assume his own revolt does not deserve to be pitied,” says Ibrahim Traoré of Burkina Faso.  By claiming that the military , Traore also made reference to the coup in Niger, “was taking responsibility” for the nation and pleading for backing for the new junta, and We share the same goals of a multipolar world moving towards sovereignty and a total shift in alliances. The overthrow of Bazoum was merely the most recent in a string of recent coups that spanned the entirety of Africa. In the past three years, military juntas have taken control of five western and central African nations—five of them former French colonies.

Moreover, Competition for influence in Africa has been sparked by the emergence of new global players like China and Russia. These nations have made large investments in the continent, frequently without the same restrictions on governance and human rights that the United States has typically pushed for. China has made significant investments in infrastructure, trade, and development projects across Africa. China has positioned itself as a significant economic partner for many African states through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China’s influence has increased dramatically as a result of significant loans and investments in industries like telecommunications, transportation, and energy. However, as China’s economic operations increase, worries about debt sustainability and neocolonialism persist.

Furthermore, Trade imbalances continue, thwarting the possibility of equitable economic growth notwithstanding the AGOA initiative. While the United States maintains trade policies that disadvantage the continent, African countries continue to face difficulties in expanding their markets, diversifying their exports, and growing their capacities. Concerns about the United States’ commitment to the continent have been raised by its patchy diplomatic participation. High-level meetings and interactions have dwindled in frequency, limiting prospects for fruitful cooperation and eroding diplomatic connections.

In a nutshell, concern should be expressed over the worsening US-African ties since they pose a risk to the prospects for both global stability and shared advancement. Both parties must work together in a determined effort to reverse this tendency, one that is characterized by reaffirmed commitment, equitable partnerships, and ongoing cooperation. The US and Africa can together create a better and more affluent future by reviving the spirit of cooperation that once underpinned their relationship.

Tahir Abbas
Tahir Abbas
International Relations National Defence University Islamabad