Article 98 Agreements and the War on Terror in Africa

Article 98 Agreements and the War on Terror in Africa

The NYT recently ran an interesting article discussing how the Bush administration’s policy of cutting military aid to countries that refuse to sign Article 98 agreements with the U.S. has undermined the war against terror in Africa:

Last year, the United States cut off $13 million for training and equipping troops in Kenya, where operatives of Al Qaeda killed 224 people when they bombed the American Embassy compound in Nairobi in 1998.

In 2003, the flow of $309,000 annually was suspended to Mali, where Pentagon officials contend an Algerian separatist group with ties to Al Qaeda — known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, or G.S.P.C. — has established a base. Money has also been cut for Tanzania, Niger and several other African nations.

Citing Kenya as an example, Pentagon officials say it makes little sense to ask for Kenya’s support in fighting terrorism while denying it the money it needs for training and equipping troops.

“Kenya is a key partner in our counterterrorism strategy and our goals in Africa,’’ a Pentagon official who works on Africa strategy said. “This hurts us, there’s no question about it.”


The situation in Mali is of great concern because the Salafist group is believed to have established a foothold in that desolate country’s northern region. A recent State Department report said Mali’s northern territories had turned into a “safe haven” for the group’s fighters.

The Salafist group’s ability to attack the Algerian government is believed to have diminished in recent years, but intelligence officials are now concerned that the group is expanding its ties to Al Qaeda and other groups, and has used networks in the Middle East to send fighters into Iraq.

In recent years, the Pentagon has sent Special Forces trainers into Mali as part of a broader counterterrorism initiative to strengthen the abilities of Mali’s army to deal with organizations like the Salafist group.

But counterterrorism experts see such operations as short-term solutions. They argue that without a serious investment in Mali’s army, the ramshackle military has little hope of rooting out terrorists.

“Mali doesn’t have any power production capabilities, and its military can’t extend any power up into the north,” said an American official, who recently made a fact-finding trip to the Sahara. “The terrorist organizations can run around up there because the army can’t get to them.”

As my co-bloggers and I have noted before (see here and here, for example), the U.S. seems to be softening its stance toward the ICC. This article provides yet another reason why that development is so important — and needs to continue. The best solution would be for Congress to repeal Section 2007 of the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act (ASPA), passed in 2002, which prohibits military assistance to the government of any country that is a member of the ICC. Alternatively, the Bush administration could make more intelligent use of its right under Section 2007 to waive the prohibition of military aid on national-security grounds.

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