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GOP senators blast Biden admin moves in Africa as Russia looks to fill vacuum

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JOHANNESBURG – With two West African countries in the sprawling Sahel region leaning heavily toward Moscow, telling U.S. forces battling Islamist terror activity to get out and letting Russian mercenary forces in, leading GOP Senators have struck out against the Biden administration’s foreign policy, with one calling it a «disaster.»

«President Biden’s foreign policy has been a disaster on every continent, and Africa is no exception,» Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., told Fox News Digital.

The senator continued, «While the Russians and Chinese are working overtime to oust the U.S. from a region that will soon be home to a quarter of the earth’s population, the Biden Administration continues to fumble the ball and weaken our nation’s strategic interests with our African partners.»

Scott added, «It’s crystal clear that the outcome of the November election will have massive consequences, not only on whether Americans continue putting up with Bidenomics and the rising costs of getting gas and groceries, but on our nation’s diminishing global standing as well.»

US TO PULL TROOPS FROM CHAD AND NIGER AS THE AFRICAN NATIONS QUESTION ITS COUNTERTERRORISM ROLE

People stand next to Russian and Niger flags while hundreds of supporters of the coup gather in front of the National Assembly in Niamey, Niger, on July 27, 2023. (Reuters/Balima Boureima)

Niger’s military junta has told 1,000 U.S. military service members and contractors to leave town – while permitting Russian Wagner mercenaries to move onto the same airbase housing American personnel. Some of the 100 U.S. service members in Chad have also been told to get out. 

Particularly in West Africa, Russia is gaining influence, often claimed at America’s expense.

The head of the U.S. Africa Command, Marine Corps Gen. Michael E. Langley, stated recently that terrorism is shattering African lives and plants «the seeds of violent extremism and Russian exploitation across entire regions of the continent.»

Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho., told Fox News Digital, «The U.S. isn’t fighting for influence in Africa, but despite its efforts, Russia isn’t winning over most Africans.» Risch, ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added, «Simplifying the current situation in this way gives too much credit to Russia and other bad actors who are exploiting economic, political, and security challenges for their own gain. Despite this administration’s soaring rhetoric about its successes in Africa, the continent is not a top foreign policy focus – the administration’s actions, budgets, and policies demonstrate that.»

He continued, «The U.S. has the power to swiftly reverse the current trend of African nations favoring anti-Western views. By taking stronger policy actions in partnership with the African people, we can make a significant and immediate impact, and reverse these trends.»

«America has now effectively been pushed out of Chad, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, making more room for Russia and China,» Senate Minority Leader Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the Senate on May 2.  «The administration behaves more like an ostrich than a superpower for two years.»

RUSSIA AND US JOCKEY FOR SUPPORT ACROSS AFRICA

Niger-US-Presence

The U.S. and Niger flags are raised side by side at the base camp for air forces and other personnel supporting the construction of Niger Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger, April 16, 2018. The United States is attempting to create a new military agreement with Niger that would allow it to remain in the country, weeks after the junta said its presence was no longer justified, two Western officials told The Associated Press on Friday April 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Carley Petesch)

Looking at the 54 countries which make up the African continent, a State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital «Secretary Blinken has been clear about the United States’ commitment to deepen and expand our partnerships between the United States and African countries, institutions, and people.  The United States’ strategy towards Africa is based on the belief that democracy and good governance, development, and stability are inter-linked. Together with our regional partners, we are committed to working with African countries to promote democracy, foster sustainable development, combat terrorism, and enhance security.» 

«We remain concerned by the increase in violence and worsening humanitarian trends across the Sahel region. The only long-term solution to the scourge of terrorism is delivering good governance based on the rule of law, respect for human rights, and promotion of social cohesion. Overreliance on military-only approaches to instability and insufficient efforts to protect civilians from human rights abuses and violations, will only further entrench structural drivers of instability.»

Washington has declared publicly that it will pull forces out of Niger, but the 1,000 personnel are still there, with a State Department spokesperson telling Fox News Digital last week that officials «are engaged in frank discussions with the authorities in Niger.» 

Protest

Nigeriens gather in a street to protest against the U.S. military presence in Niamey, Niger April 13, 2024. (REUTERS/Mahamadou Hamidou/File Photo)

During Tuesday’s State Department briefing, spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters that in discussions with Niger’s new government (CNSP), «We have not been able to come to an understanding that would allow the United States to maintain its military presence in Niger, and we’re currently working with the CNSP to withdraw U.S. forces in an orderly and responsible fashion.» 

The U.S. troops are being used as «pawns» by Washington, in order to try and get military and medivac overflight permission in Niger, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., claimed in statements provided by his office to Fox News Digital. «Today, more than a thousand personnel have not been sufficiently resupplied since March following the coup.»

CHAD’S MILITARY LEADER WINS DISPUTED PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Putin African Diplomacy

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Chad’s Transitional President Brice Mahamat Idriss Deby at the Kremlin in Moscow on Jan. 24, 2024. (Photo by MIKHAIL METZEL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Gaetz continued, «Biden has two choices: resupply our troops or bring them home ASAP. The notion that we are allowing third world thugs – who we trained – to dictate terms on the well-being of American troops is a furtherance of the Biden foreign policy disgrace.» 

Controversy is also next door in Chad, with the military junta there saying they want the U.S. military out of their country. Washington has had around 100 personnel fighting terrorism stationed there. Some were pulled out during last week’s presidential elections, but sources suggest this withdrawal is «temporary.»

Enter the Kremlin. Niger has, in contrast, welcomed up to 100 military personnel thought to be mercenaries from the Wagner group to set up shop for operations out of a hangar on the same airbase 101 housing U.S. personnel. 

The potential departure of U.S. forces from Niger and Chad is «a win for Putin,» said Rebekah Koffler, strategic military intelligence analyst and Foreign Affairs Consultant for Fox News Digital. «Any military hardware that’s left will be picked up by the Russians who are always on the hunt for U.S. weapons dropped on the battlefield or abandoned at military bases. Those combat systems will be acquired, inspected, and either reverse engineered or countermeasures will be built within Russian weapons systems to mitigate the effectiveness of U.S. arms.»

Wagner in Africa

Marchers gather in support of Wagner PMC in Kaga-Bandoro, Central African Republic, in December 2023. (East2West)

«The United States clearly faces challenges in maintaining its position in West Africa,» Gustavo de Carvalho, senior researcher for African Governance and Diplomacy at the South African Institute of International Affairs, told Fox News Digital. «But it is somehow a chicken and an egg dilemma. Are Russia and China actively working to replace the West, or is the West losing influence while China and Russia fill the gap?

«In the West African case,» de Carvalho added. «I believe this is more a case of the West losing influence and Russia filling a specific security demand gap. The relationship between Western countries and Sahelian governments became so fractured recently that Russia took advantage of the void left behind.»

Koffler said Russia’s strategic goals are clear. «To expand its footprint in Africa, in order to outcompete the U.S. there, reduce the US/Western influence and to compete with China. It’s part of Putin’s vision of a ‘multipolar world.’» 

The Kremlin, Koffler added, has a «clever» diplomatic goal too, with it trying to get more African countries to vote in support of Russia at the U.N. «Africa has a big voting block within the United Nations,» Koffler said. «So Moscow wants to predispose those governments towards Russia’s policy agenda, so they can vote in Russia’s interests, not Western interests. Many African countries already feel that their voices in international organizations are not heard. And Russia capitalizes on those anti-Western sentiments.»

JIHADIST AND NUCLEAR THREAT AS AFRICAN COUNTRY TELLS US TO LEAVE AMID RUSSIAN AND IRANIAN GAINS

Wagner mercenaries in Africa.

Wagner mercenaries in Mali in December 2023. (East2West)

De Carvalho agreed that Africa is becoming higher on the agenda of priorities for Russian foreign policy. «They have so far been able to exploit years of reduced interest in Africa by Western Countries, including the U.S., benefiting from the fact that Western narratives and motivations are increasingly seen with distrust.»

Enter China. Koffler declared this week, «From the economic standpoint, the U.S. is not losing the battle for Africa to Russia, but it is losing it to China.» Koffler claimed China, with its belt and road trade initiative, has $254 billion worth of trade with Africa annually, whereas the U.S. has $64 billion, and Russia only $18 billion.

De Carvalho stressed that China’s aims are not military, but «it is essential to note that China’s presence does not necessarily equate to dominance. China tends to be more interested in securing financial benefits and market access, rather than using its influence as a direct tool for Western containment.»

De Carvalho pointed out that he believes Washington needs to change its focus – not what it sees, but how it sees it. He said, «If the U.S. wants to increase its influence, it needs to approach Africa on its own merits, not solely as a means to counter the role of China and Russia. Africa has a long history of being used as a proxy in global disputes, and a narrative that reinforces that is indeed counterproductive. And that’s a challenge the U.S. needs to address.»

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«To address its own declining position, the US Administration should focus on building more genuine partnerships with African nations, prioritizing investments, economic development, security cooperation, and addressing shared challenges such as climate change and public health. They should engage with African countries as partners, not vehicles or proxies. But for that to happen, it would require a change in the narrative, approaches and action, making the continent a direct focus, not a terrain for geopolitical disputes.»


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INTERNACIONAL

President of UN’s top court has long history of anti-Israel bias: ‘Conflict of interest’

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JERUSALEM – The controversial International Court of Justice (ICJ) is not only facing severe criticism for its Friday order declaring that Israel should stop its military offensive in Rafah to root out Hamas, but also for the well-documented anti-Israel bias of the U.N. court’s presiding judge.

«Put simply, the U.N.’s highest legal body is a political tool of global antisemitism. The presiding judge in this case was ICJ  [International Court of Justice] President Nawaf Salam. He is from Lebanon, a country that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. And in his spare time, he has tweeted such things as a meme that reads ‘unhappy birthday to you: 48 years of occupation.’ He is a politician – a rabid anti-Israel politician – dressed up by the U.N. as a judge,» Anne Bayefsky, the director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, told Fox News Digital

Bayefsky, a legal expert on the U.N. who oversees Human Rights Voices, said, «And from where did his kangaroo Court get its ‘facts’ in this case? Well, the United Nations, of course. An institution whose highest bodies – the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council – have never even condemned Hamas terrorists and their October 7 atrocities.»

BODIES OF THREE HOSTAGES TAKEN BY HAMAS DURING ATTACK ON ISRAEL RECOVERED FROM GAZA 

Nawaf Salam, president of the International Court of Justice, listens during a hearing in The Hague, on May 1, 2024. (Remko de Waal/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Orde Kittrie, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argued in a February Wall Street Journal opinion article that Judge Salam’s political activism in Lebanon contributed to his bias against Israel and violates the ICJ’s rules. He wrote that the ICJ’s conflict-of-interest rules declare that no judge «may exercise any political or administrative function, or engage in any other occupation of a professional nature.»

Kittrie, a law professor at Arizona State University, also noted that the ICJ charter states that no jurist «may participate in the decision of any case in which he has previously taken part» as «advocate» or in «any other capacity.»

IDF forces in Rafah

The IDF says its «troops are continuing operations against terror targets in the area of Rafah.» (IDF Spokesman’s Office)

NETANYAHU SAYS ISRAEL REFUSES TO LEAVE THE REMAINING HAMAS BATTALIONS IN RAFAH: ‘WE’RE GOING IN THERE’ 

Salam reportedly ran for prime minister of Lebanon in the last two elections and, as Kittrie wrote, was Lebanon’s U.N. ambassador from 2007 to 2017. Salam was routinely «denouncing and casting votes against Israel’s military conduct and presence in the disputed territories,» wrote the legal expert.

Nawaf Salam, former Lebanese ambassador to the UN.

Nawaf Salam, the Lebanese ambassador to the United Nations, speaks with Riyad Mansour, permanent observer of Palestine, during a Security Council meeting on Sept. 28, 2011, in New York City. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

According to an article in the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) Salam wrote on social media in 2015, «When we criticize and condemn Israel it is never because of the Jewish character of the majority of its population,» and in another post said, «Portraying the critics of Israel’s policies as antisemites is an attempt to intimidate and discredit them, which we reject.»

Later that same year, JNS quoted him as tweeting «…#Palestine’s full membership in #UN & ending #Israel’s occupation remain long overdue.»

Lebanon experts argue that the Mideast country has been in de-facto control of the U.S.-designated terrorist organization, Hezbollah, for over a decade and has played a role in joining Hamas’ war by firing multiple missiles into Israel. The Iranian regime-backed Hezbollah, like Hamas, seeks the destruction of the Jewish state.

Fox News Digital approached the ICJ for a comment but did not immediately receive a response.

The ICJ’s order lacks enforcement and the Israeli government said it will plow forward with its military campaign to eliminate four Hamas battalions in Rafah.

LINDSEY GRAHAM TELLS UN INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE TO ‘GO TO HELL’ OVER RULING AGAINST ISRAEL

Israeli government spokesperson Avi Hyman said on Friday of the ICJ order: «No power on earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and going after Hamas in Gaza.» He added, «We will destroy Hamas, we will return peace and security to the people of Israel and to the people of Gaza. We cannot go on with a genocidal terrorist regime on our southern border.» 

Split image of a United Nations flag over United Nations builing, the back of a woman being taken by Hamas

U.N. headquarters and flag juxtaposed with a picture of an Israeli woman kidnapped by Hamas terrorists. (Getty Images/Hamas-Telegram)

Bayefsky noted how the terrorist group responded to Friday’s ruling. «Hamas murderers and rapists themselves best articulate the standing of this ‘legal’ farce. They immediately reacted: ‘We welcome the decision by the World Court’ before referring to the Jewish state as the ‘Zionist enemy’ they intend to annihilate. So the fans of a decision purporting to be anti-genocide, are those who are openly committed to genocide. A U.N. court with friends in low places.»

Salam said in his reading of the ruling, «The Court considers that, in conformity with its obligations under the Genocide Convention, Israel must immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.»

Hamas slaughtered nearly 1,200 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7. The jihadi terrorist movement kidnapped over 250 people, and 125 hostages are still being held captive in Rafah.

ICJ court hearing on Israel

Judge Nawaf Salam speaks at the start of a hearing in The Hague, Netherlands, May 16, 2024. (Reuters/Yves Herman)

Some of the IJC judges and outside legal experts have rejected the majority decision. Four of the 15 ICJ justices said the clause that Salam cited in his oral presentation does not mandate that Israel swiftly pull the plug on its military campaign in Rafah. According to this interpretation, the Jewish state is only required to stop its military operations if it «could bring about physical destruction in whole or in part.» 

ICJ Vice President Julia Sebutinde, from Uganda, who voted against all decisions opposed to Israel, wrote, «This measure does not entirely prohibit the Israeli military from operating in Rafah. Instead, it only operates to partially restrict Israel’s offensive in Rafah to the extent it implicates rights under the Genocide Convention.»

Sebutinde added, «… this directive may be misunderstood as mandating a unilateral ceasefire in Rafah and amounts to micromanaging the hostilities in Gaza by restricting Israel’s ability to pursue its legitimate military objectives, while leaving its enemies, including Hamas, free to attack without Israel being able to respond.»

The Ugandan jurist also voted against all restrictions that the ICJ ordered against Israel in the court’s January ruling that Jerusalem take steps to prevent acts of genocide as it fights Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

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Hamas terrorists in Gaza

Hamas terrorists are seen during a military show on July 20, 2017, in Gaza City, Gaza. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Aharon Barak, former Israeli Supreme Court president who has a post as an ad-hoc judge on the ICJ bench, said in his dissenting opinion that the majority view «requires Israel to halt its military offensive in the Rafah Governorate only in so far as is necessary to comply with Israel’s obligations under the Genocide Convention.»

He added, «Israel is not prevented from carrying out its military operation in the Rafah Governorate as long as it fulfills its obligations under the Genocide Convention.» Barak noted «the measure is a qualified one, which preserves Israel’s right to prevent and repel threats and attacks by Hamas, defend itself and its citizens, and free the hostages.»


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