The newly elected chairman of the African Union Moussa Faki Mahamat questioned the United States’ commitment to fighting terrorism in Africa, after it blocked attempts by the African Union to get United Nations funding for an anti-jihadist force in the Sahel.
Speaking to AFP on Wednesday, the former Chadian Minister of Foreign Affairs said the anti-jihadist unit is an initiative by several African states to create a force that is dedicated to combating terror in the region.
“So we don’t understand how the United States could hold back or not engage in the fight against terrorism,” Mahamat was quoted by News24.
Last month, the UN Security Council welcomed the deployment of a five-nation African military force to fight jihadists in West Africa’s Sahel region, but the United States advised it against supporting the unit.
Don’t Abandon Us
Although Washington argues that the United Nations doesn’t have to authorize the deployment since the troops will be operating in the five countries that make up the force, the AU claims the real problem is the United States’ unwillingness to commit UN funds to the mission.
This row comes at a time when the U.S. government has promised to cut funding to African aid projects and institutions like the AU.
“We hope that the new administration will be in step with the current challenges of the world,” Mahamat said, urging the United States not to abandon Africa.
The United States is one of the main foreign donors funding AU’s operations and is a key ally in the union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia, AMISOM.
Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. government has promised to review most of these engagements to ensure they are in line with American interests.
Early last month, the White House reportedly pushed through a $600 million cut in the UN’s budget for peacekeeping operations, forcing a drawdown of a long-running peacekeeping mission in the troubled Darfur region in Sudan.
This budget cut was followed by Tump’s announcement that his government will soon be pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, weakening efforts to combat global warming.
Reacting to the news of the planned withdrawal, the deputy AU Commission chairperson Thomas Kwesi Quartey criticized the move, saying it is likely to hurt Africa and requested Washington to reconsider the decision.
Experts have warned that Trump’s actions and statements against America’s support for developing countries are likely to jeopardize the important relationship the country has had with the rest of the world.