On November 20, 2021, the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, will wrap up his current visit to three African countries, namely: Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal.
Blinken’s assignment which runs from November 15, started with his first destination being Nairobi, Kenya — where he met with the country’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, business execs and some stakeholders in the eastern African corruption-afflicted country.
Substantially, the issue of regional security is top on the list of his priorities during his visit to those African countries.
In Nairobi, he called for a cease-fire in the war in Ethiopia before it destabilizes other parts of the region.
Around the same region, the very recent military coup in the Sudan is a flash point of concern. In nearby Somalia, the radical Islamists al-Shabab remain a material danger to Kenya itself and Somalia.
Without any doubt, the recognition which Kenya still gets draws, too, from it being an important country in the geo-strategic power equation and intelligence interests of the United States. That is, whether it is Donald J Trump that is the President or Joseph Biden.
Recall that almost 10 days after the publication of the “Pandora Papers” (in October 2021) where it was revealed that Mr. Kenyatta, the President of Kenya, stashed away (with his family) $30 million US dollars in offshore accounts and secret tax havens, Biden hosted the same Kenyatta on Thursday, October 14, 2021.
Kenyatta, therefore, became the first African leader hosted at the White House by Biden.
The White House indicated that the meeting was part of “Biden’s commitment to the U.S partnership with Africa based on principles of mutual respect and equality.”
In an indirect dig at the controversial Uhuru and his opaque financial dealings, the White House stated, as quoted in USAfricaonline.com that the two leaders will highlight “the need to bring transparency and accountability to domestic and international financial systems…. discuss efforts to defend democracy and human rights, advance peace and security, accelerate economic growth and tackle climate change.”
Those issues, the U.S State Department noted form important components of interests. Blinken will be “affirming our strategic partnership with Kenya. The Secretary and representatives of the Kenyan government will discuss our shared interests as members of the UN Security Council, including addressing regional security issues such as Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan. The Secretary will advance U.S.-Kenyan cooperation on ending COVID-19, improving clean energy access, and protecting the environment. The Secretary will underscore U.S. support for a peaceful and inclusive Kenyan election in 2022.”
As I conclude this analysis of diplomacy and national security interests, again, I recall my political science and international relations class at my great alma mater, the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) where I was taught the existential dynamics, strategic and material interests determine, substantially, “the games nations play.“
There’s an international relations magnum opus with the same name ‘Games Nations Play: Analyzing International Politics.’ It was published in 1972 by John W. Spanier.
These important engagements by Blinken, an experienced diplomat and international security expert, will be his first official trip to the African continent, as America’s chief diplomat.
— Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica magazine and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the Internet, USAfricaonline.com, served as an adviser on Africa business and issues to former Mayor of Houston, Texas. He is the author of the 2022 book, MLK, Mandela & Achebe: Power, Leadership and Identity, @Chido247