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Analysis: Africa a setting for new cold war?

AhlulBayt News Agency: The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently visited a number of
African countries in a bid to shore up cooperation with them. Reports
say that the top American diplomat is seeking to reverse lagging behind
China and Russia and check their deepening influence in Africa. White
House officials have said that during this visit, Blinken will launch
the US strategy for the sub-Saharan region and will lead an American
delegation at the US-South Africa strategic dialogue meeting.

The tour comes on the heels of the Russian counterpart Sergei
Lavrov’s visit to a number of African countries. Last week, Chinese
Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Xue
Bing visited South Africa, something signaling a heightening
competition in Africa among the world powers. 

In the 19th century, Africa had become a breeding ground for European
colonialists, and the powers of that time took advantage of the
weakness of the local governments and plundered the rich resources of
the continent with their occupation, and now that the competition among
the powers is increasing at the global level, Africa is once again
rising to be the focus of Western and Eastern powers. 

Although Washington did not pay much attention to Africa in the past
decades, since Moscow and Beijing have shown special attention in recent
years to increasing interactions and developing their influence in this
region, it has also struggled not to fall behind. Analysts believe that
although the US is trying to counter the influence of China and Russia,
it failed to form a new coalition to achieve its goal of containing
these two countries due to the significant cooperation between China and
Africa and Moscow’s deep interaction with this continent. 

Pushing to check Russian influence in Africa 

During the Cold War, Europe was the main setting of competition
between the East and West, and this time Africa may take Europe’s role
due to its geopolitical position and proximity to Europe, and the recent
movements of Western, Chinese, and Russian officials bear witness to
this fact. Because of its rich energy resources, gold mines, and
precious metals, Africa has always attracted great powers and since the
level of tensions between the US and rivals has intensified in recent
years, leaders of Moscow and Beijing are trying to strengthen their
interactions with Africa in the fields of trade and energy in order to
neutralize the effects of Western sanctions. 

Many African countries have not yet joined the Western sanctions
against Russia, and this is completely understandable given the
dependence of the poor countries in this region on Russian grain and
energy. On the other hand, the bitter memory of European colonialism and
the help of the Soviets to African freedom movements for independence
from the yoke of Western colonialism is still alive in Africans’
subconscious, and this issue makes it easier for Russia to have African
governments on its side. 

Russia’s influence in Africa is so deep that some Western media have
claimed that Russia is trying to finance a significant part of the war
in Ukraine from African gold it mines. After the Ukraine crisis, Russia
tried to get Africa’s oil and gas-rich counties on its side, and it has
been relatively successful. Therefore, the US, in order to realize the
Western front’s policy of Russian isolation, needs the help of
influential countries in Africa

Containing Chinese ambitions in Africa 

Naming China the biggest threat to its global hegemony, the US is
pursuing a policy of putting a check on of this emerging heavyweight
across the globe. 

Since China has built strong trade ties with African countries in
recent years and has made large investments in this continent,
Washington is also trying to block China’s voyage to being a global
superpower by strengthening American relations with this region. The
allocation of $600 billion by the US-dominated G7 to developing
countries to put the skids under China’s ambitious ‘Belt and Road
Initiative’ is also part of this strategy. The Americans know that if
they do not restrain China now, the country will unseat them as the
world’s economic hub in the future, that is, the power will be
transferred from the West to the East after 8 decades. 

North Africa is part of China’s ‘New Silk Road’ project, and
influence in this region can accelerate Beijing’s global goals and
leadership. To this end, the Chinese make African states loans with the
aim of building infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports, and
airports. According to statistics, China’s bilateral trade with African
nations in 2021 set a new record, amounting to $254 billion. China,
which entered developing countries through an economic partnership,
considers African countries important to advancing its global agenda,
and since Africans can play an important role in global competition
between great powers, China has appointed a special representative for
them. 

The visits of the Eastern and West officials to Africa signals the
continent’s role in the future global economic makeup, and any contender
that manages to strengthen ties with these countries can turn out a
winner. 

African countries need $170 billion of foreign investment annually to
advance their infrastructure, and this is a good opportunity for big
powers to attract these countries with financial aids. Driven by this
reality, Washington and its Western allies are trying to spend a part of
the $600 billion in Africa in order to eliminate the negative view of
the African public to the West for its colonialism and also to hold back
the Russians and the Chinese from domination of the African resources. 

Concerns about African states’ membership in BRICS 

In order to challenge America’s dominance over the world’s financial
and economic institutions, Russia and China have designed their own
economic institutions, including the BRICS group ( Brazil, Russia,
India, China, and South Africa). In order to strengthen the arms of this
economic bloc, they have recently invited developing countries to join
in and this issue has made the Americans struggle to prevent African
countries from joining the Moscow-Beijing axis. 

South Africa, Africa’s economic leader, is key to the West and East.
Experts argue that although Pretoria has friendly relationship with
Washington and London, it is unrealistic to expect it to be in the
Western camp against China and Russia. Because this country is
considered one of the big emerging countries that actively interacts
with China and is part of the BRICS. This issue will benefit Moscow and
Beijing in the global competition. Strengthening the economy of the
Chinese and Russian camp with rich energy of Persian Gulf countries in
the gold and mineral resources of African countries can tip the scales
in the Eastern bloc’s favor. 

The developed economies are ratcheting up their support to developing
counterparts and according to estimates, India, Brazil, and Indonesia
will have a remarkable economic growth in next decade. India and Brazil
presence in BRICS can seriously hamper Washington’s global anti-China
and Russia policies. 

Thanks to its Bretton Woods system of monetary management that
governs World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the US has dominated
the world economy for eight decades and should this system collapse,
China and Russia replace their own institutions and hence take control
of the global economy— something extremely worrying the White House
officials. 

World developments signal Cold War 2.0 is in the making between China
and Russia on the one side and the West on the other hand, and
meanwhile Africa is part of this competition for a domination over world
economy. Moscow and Beijing are relatively winning because while the US
officials call African countries “sh*thole countries”, as did Trump,
the Russians and Chinese are expanding their interactions with the black
continent for future advantages. They actually reap what they sowed
years ago and the American visits and empty promises to the Africans
cannot disrupt these relations.

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