Weighty Goals for African Union Summit

The annual meeting was held this year in Uganda weeks after terror attacks

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The annual African Union summit came to a close on Tuesday after multilateral talks in the Ugandan capital of Kampala that covered everything from health to terrorism. The meeting came two weeks after terrorist bombings in the city by al-Shabaab, a Somali insurgency that itself was the subject of much discussion at the summit. The African Union had recently increased its number of peacekeepers in war-torn Somalia from 6,000 to 8,000. Here's what the summit addressed on Somalia and more.

  • Let Somalia Collapse  The New York Times' Jeffrey Gettleman writes, "If there is one place on the African continent that could benefit from new thinking, it is Somalia, a country that has been mired in mutating forms of civil war for nearly 20 years. But that is apparently not, many analysts contend, what Africa’s leaders are prepared to give it. ... Many, if not most, of the analysts who follow Somalia believe that the African peacekeeping mission, no matter how many troops are part of it, is going to fail. ... It would be better, in the long run, to pull out all the peacekeepers, let the transitional government fall, let the Shabab take over the country, and then allow clan militias and businessmen to rise up and overthrow them. The eventual result, analysts argue, would be a government that would be more organic and therefore more durable than a government that relies on outside forces to survive."
  • Don't Just Focus on Routing Terrorists  World Politics Review's David Axe warns, "to secure its borders, cities and regional interests, Uganda must do more than target terrorists. Roving rebel groups, many of them homegrown, also threaten this rapidly developing country of 32 million people. Terrorists from the east and rebels from the west raise the prospect of a two-front war for Kampala. American assistance factors heavily on both fronts. And both also represent potential security quagmires. ... As Uganda finds itself increasingly threatened on both sides, it must take care as to how it responds. Targeting terrorists and rebels sometimes only empowers them."
  • Can Humanitarian Aid Counter Extremism?  Reuters' Mark Bradbury examines the humanitarian projects, chiefly led by the U.S., meant to stabilize East Africa and prevent conflict there. "The assumption that small-scale aid projects like repairing toilets, can win the 'hearts and minds' of people, help to stabilise a region, prevent the radicalisation of populations and work to counter terrorism, suggests at best a simplistic - if not patronising - view of the assisted communities. ... While it is true that some of the US military's projects have filled a gap in assistance in northern Kenya, particularly in the education sector, they have contributed only marginally to economic development and done nothing to tackle the underlying conditions that may give rise to radicalisation and violent extremism."
  • Success on Fighting Malaria   GlaxoSmithKline vice president Madiké Seye writes in the Uganda Independent, calling the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) appointed by the African Union summit "a great example of what Africans can do when we work together on the highest level." He writes, "We also need to start thinking about new tools, including a malaria vaccine, which could complement existing interventions. Vaccines and immunization services have been critical to improving Africa’s health over the last several decades. Anyone whose child has suffered from malaria – and there are only few of us who have not directly been affected by the disease – can imagine what a malaria vaccine would mean."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.