U.S. en­voy Ha­ley’s blunt diplo­macy tar­gets S.Su­dan, Congo

Stabroek News - - WORLD NEWS -

JUBA, South Su­dan/KITCHANGA, Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo, (Reuters) - In a moun­tain­ous camp for dis­placed Con­golese, U.S. Am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Nikki Ha­ley wrapped her arm around an in­con­solable woman who re­counted be­ing raped twice.

“It only makes me more pas­sion­ate, it makes me more de­ter­mined,” Ha­ley told a small group of re­porters trav­el­ing with her dur­ing her first trip to Africa. “I’ll carry the voices of the women that I met and things that they said.”

Dis­patched by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to Ethiopia, South Su­dan and Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo, Ha­ley’s trip was one of the first tan­gi­ble signs of in­ter­est in Africa by the nine-month old ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Her chal­lenge: how to show the United States is ac­tively en­gaged in Africa, where hu­man­i­tar­ian and po­lit­i­cal crises are of­ten over­shad­owed by more ur­gent con­flicts else­where and at the same time honor Trump’s avowed “Amer­ica First” pol­icy which puts U.S. eco­nomic and na­tional in­ter­ests ahead of in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments.

As Africa strug­gles to win Trump’s in­ter­est, U.S. pol­icy is more likely to be in­creas­ingly fo­cused on coun­ter­ing mil­i­tant threats. Wash­ing­ton also has a fi­nan­cial in­ter­est at stake as it tries to cut U.N. peace­keep­ing costs, for which it pays more than a quar­ter.

Trump has made a point of say­ing he would not im­pose U.S. val­ues on oth­ers, rais­ing con­cerns among ac­tivists that hu­man rights is­sues could take a back­seat.

Nowhere is that more in fo­cus than in Niger where a deadly am­bush killed four U.S. troops who were there to as­sist lo­cal Nige­rian forces fight­ing a lo­cal Is­lamic State af­fil­i­ate this month. At the same time, Wash­ing­ton has mostly turned a blind eye to the in­creas­ingly au­thor­i­tar­ian moves of Niger’s for­mer op­po­si­tion leader, now pres­i­dent Ma­hamadou Is­soufou, as it tries to stop the mil­i­tant threat from ex­pand­ing. Ha­ley, a for­mer gov­er­nor of the U.S. state of South Carolina, was the most se­nior mem­ber of Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to travel to the three sub-Sa­ha­ran states in a trip that showed how she bal­ances her po­lit­i­cal skills with her nas­cent for­eign pol­icy and diplo­macy ex­pe­ri­ence.

She was moved to tears af­ter vis­it­ing dis­placed Con­golese in Kitchanga in the con­flict-rav­aged east of the coun­try. In Ethiopia’s Gam­bella re­gion, she kicked off her shoes and sat down on the floor to play with South Su­danese tod­dlers.

“Those kids will be 18 one day,” Ha­ley told a small group of re­porters dur­ing her trip. “They will be an un­e­d­u­cated adult with no so­cial skills that will have re­sented the fact that they were put in that sit­u­a­tion and that’s dan­ger­ous for the United States and that’s dan­ger­ous for the world.”

Nikki Ha­ley

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