The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations meets with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee, Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Stabilization Robert Jenkins and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Chidi Blyden regarding the state of democracy in the Sahel. The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic realm of transition in Africa between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian savanna to the south. July 12, 2022.
This hearing will come to order. Let me thank our witnesses for joining us today to discuss the turmoil and instability, plaguing the hell. While the region may not often make front page news, millions of people continue to face threats from militaries that are supposed to protect them ethnically based militias and dire food insecurity. These threats had displaced 2.4 million people in the Central Sahel by this May, and more than 30 million people in the Sahel will need lifesaving assistance and protection this year. Nearly two million more than last year, according to the U. N. Coordinator for humanitarian affairs. Unfortunately, some of the militaries in the subregion militaries, which we trained and equipped by the way, have contributed to the problem. Instead of being a stabilizing force, they have undertaken coups in Burkina, Faso chad Mali and attempted one in and particularly in Mali. The military has committed gross human rights abuses in the course of counterterrorism operations, with little to no accountability. Making matters worse, Russia has established a foothold in Mali through the Wagner group and is also involved in human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings of civilians. In the wake of the coup and chad, the junta fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters, killing seven, wounding dozens more. And it has yet to commit to the transition timeline. The African Union articulated a year ago for two decades, the United States and our partners have spent billions of dollars to aid stability efforts by supporting military operations against terrorist actors and by strengthening the military capacity of countries in the Sahel to counter the threat of violent extremists. Successive administrations have used both State and Defense Department programs to provide equipment and trained militaries including deploying U. S. Forces to assist African soldiers at the devastating cost of American lives. All of us remember the tragic deaths of four American special operations soldiers who were killed in Nigeria In 2017 when they were ambushed by militants belonging to the Islamic state in the Greater Sahara and our partners have suffered casualties as well. Scores of soldiers from Mali Nigeria, Burkina Faso chad and France have deployed in successive operations and have lost their lives. The U. N. Peacekeeping mission in Mali is the deadliest in the world. Just last month, two more peacekeepers were killed by an improvised explosive. And despite all of our efforts we have little positive to show. In 2019, the head of Special operations in Africa, General Marcus Hicks told voice of America with regards to the fight against terrorism in the Sahel. And I quote, I would tell you at this time, we are not winning clearly, the situation has only deteriorated and while we invested billions in the security sector, our diplomatic and development efforts have been undercut by a lack of resources and presence, significant staffing shortages at our embassies and lack of a robust U. S. A. I. D. Presence in the Sahel are limiting our ability to balance our security programs with tackling the root causes of extremism in the Sahel. I appreciate the engagement from the administration with regards to the requirement to consult with this committee on that strategy and in the wake of this hearing, I and other members will provide you with feedback on your approach. Yesterday I introduced a resolution calling for a democratic transition in the Republic of chad. It demands General Dubie release those arrested during the protest of spring. It supports the African Union’s push to organize elections by October 22. It calls on the military junta to abide by the African Union’s transition timeline and it asked the Secretary of State to identify coup leaders and their accomplices in order to target them with visa restrictions and financial sanctions. In addition to this, in March, Congress passed the trans Sahara counterterrorism Partnership program Act 2021 which I sponsored in the Senate. This legislation aims to ensure that we have a strategy to address the political governance and development challenges in north and west Africa Today’s hearing excuse me. I expect our witnesses to share their frank assessments of whether the US approach over the years have yielded the results that we expect them and if not, what do we need to change with that?
Let me turn to the ranking member, both of the on the subcommittee and for this hearing. Senator rounds. Thank you Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to serve as the ranking member for this hearing on US policy towards the hill. This topic is an important one and I appreciate the chairman prioritizing it for a full committee hearing today. It is also good to see that we have essential leaders working on Africa policy for D. O. D. State and U. S. Aid to have this critical discussion. During this hearing, we have a lot to cover regarding the myriad challenges to regional security and development in the city including many vital issues creating a humanitarian crisis and impacting us national security. The seal has been a region of significant insecurity and underdevelopment for decades owing to a profound lack of development. is ranked last on the U.N. Human Development Index Mali Chad and Burkina Faso also feature in the bottom 10. The people of the Sea Hill are among the poorest in the world and face acute hardships from desert terrain isolation and an increasing threat from violent extremist groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. I am concerned that US foreign policy towards the seal has been challenged to keep pace with the threat or level of need deficits in our policy and approach and those of our allies seem to have allowed the situation in the Sahel to worsen. Despite the initial success of France’s military intervention in Mali in 2013, these violent extremist groups have only grown in capacity and expanded their areas of control, such as they now directly threaten our partners south of the Seal, on the west or on the coast of West Africa. I am concerned Africa has not received the U. S. Diplomatic focus. It deserves Congress continues to follow closely the wave of military coup that have affected sub Saharan Africa in the last two years. The majority of these recent coups have occurred in the same deal. I look forward to hearing about the administration’s assessment of what is driving these coups and how its plans to address them in a manner that promotes our interests while working behind the scenes with these regimes to promote our interests and values. In this context, molly is worthy of emphasis. I look forward to a clear vision from the administration about how to enable the U. N. Peacekeeping operation in Mali to make a positive contribution to regional stability and not just soak up resources. The entrance of the Russia backed Wagner group in Mali last year and the subsequent hasty withdrawal of French troops only compound the challenges faced by the US and our European allies in the region. Concurrently, these developments create an opportunity for a renewed US focus on which has been for some time the most promising partner in the region for the United States. Two weeks ago, the NSC shared the Biden administration strategy on this hill with this committee. The strategy reflects the Biden administration’s aspirational view of its plans to approach the region. It will hopefully drive important policy and resource discussions that need to occur. While the inter-agency approval and rollout of the seal strategy is a welcome development. I look forward to the administration’s ability to implement such a strategy. My concerns focus on two main areas. First is concerning regarding interagency coordination to implement the strategy, including vital coordination between the State Department and Department of Defense and second, the personnel deficit at many State Department posts across the seal, we must place qualified personnel with professional experience working on African policy uh and and issues critical in Africa in the same hell. If it is indeed a region of strategic priority, senior leaders at our diplomatic post in the seal should have essential qualifications, the least of which should be previous Africa experience and the ability to speak French for junior level positions. The State Department urgently urgently needs to figure out creative ways to incentivize service in this complex part of Africa in the event that this requires additional resources. I look forward to the inter-agency providing these need requests to Congress. We have built up a great deal of goodwill through security cooperation and programs like Pepfar. However, it is increasingly clear in this renewed age of strategic competition that what we have been doing in the past may not be enough losing influence in Africa to authoritarian competitors, whether their origin is African or from outside of the continent has increased the likelihood that if we do not give our Africa policy, the resources it deserves. We will lose influence to these competitors. Finally, I would be interested to hear your thoughts on whether the ways the State Department and D. O. D. Have organized themselves on Africa policy optimally supports us diplomatic and security objectives In particular. I am curious as to how the decision to depose Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi in 2011 may have played a role in sparking the negative unintended consequences for the cell hell that we are discussing today. My interest stems from the fact that Libya was located within the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs while Seal Policy was governed by the State Department Bureau of African Affairs. Meanwhile, the African Union included all of Africa within its mandate and Africom included all of Africa. Except for Egypt with an eye towards the future. I am interested in how these differences may have impeded information flows and policy coordination for the sale. I look forward to today’s conversation. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, thank you. Senator rounds with us today on behalf of the administration as Ambassador Mali fi. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Ambassador fee is a career member of the Senior Foreign service who most recently served as the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan reconciliation. Ambassador fee was U. S. Ambassador to South Sudan from 2015 to 17. Deputy Chief of Mission of the U. S. Embassy in Ethiopia and as Chief of Staff in the office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan. Um So she has extensive experience in this regard. Mr. Robert Jenkins serves as assistant to the administrator for the Bureau for Conflict Prevention and stabilization. A career member of the senior Executive service, Mr. Jenkins was previously a Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and humanitarian Assistance and the director of U. S. A. I. D. S. Office of transition initiatives. Prior to joining us A I. D. In 1998 Mr. Jenkins designed and implemented emergency relief and recovery programs with World Vision International in Southern Sudan and Sierra Leone. Our final witness today is uh Miss uh Cd Blyden, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs. Miss Blyden is an expert in Africa’s conflicts, security development issues. She served in the Obama administration as a special assistant to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs in 2013 to 17. She managed several functional and regional responsibilities, including US Africa. Defense Policy for Eastern Central Africa served as the African peacekeeping advisor to the stability of humanitarian affairs office and was the department’s lead on the President’s Africa peacekeeping Rapid Response partnership initiative. So again, welcome to all of you, we’d ask you to um um to summarize your, your full statements will be included for the record without objection, would ask you to summarize them in about five minutes so the committee and its members can have a conversation with you on these issues. Um we thank you for your service and we ask that you proceed with your testimony is in the order in which I introduced you. So ambassador field start. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, Senator rounds and other colleagues of the committee. I want to start by thanking you for your long standing interest and engagement in the Sahel instability in the Sahel is a security problem with the governance solution. A decade of a security focused approach has underscored this lesson as armed groups continue to expand their presence and capabilities despite French counterterrorism operations and significant Western investments in African national security capabilities. Mr. Chairman, you mentioned the trans Sahara counterterrorism partnership program. I think it’s clear that that progress to put it nicely has not been linear and increasingly inadequate given the expanding number of terrorist incidents and civilian casualties. But our efforts have afforded us numerous lessons learned that we continue to take into account as we revise our approach to the saddle, as we have found in the Middle East and in southwest Asia. We must address the underlying drivers of insecurity to effectively support efforts by African partners. To turn the tide first, we must be realistic about the daunting social, environmental, political and economic conditions that overwhelm this a hell. In order to contend with violent extremist groups, governments in the region must dramatically reform and improve. We can best encourage this required change by investing in governance. The new inter agencies to health strategy seeks to build the capacity of governments in the Sahel to provide equitable delivery of government services and to adopt measures to improve accountability, anti-corruption and dialogue between capitals and the periphery and among communities. These are the keys to winning the support of civilian populations. The five year strategy is sufficiently broad to withstand the blows of the kinds of crises and shifts we’ve seen recently. It allows us embassies the flexibility to implement the greatest effect at the local level. I tell you frankly, however, that neither our African partners nor we will transform the Sahel. Within the first five years of this strategy, the goals we have identified call for action to promote fundamental policy and governance reforms that will take many years to undertake and implement these are societal endeavors which by their very nature are incremental. But the reorientation explicit in this strategy is an essential first step recent extra constitutional changes of government in three of the five Sahelian countries have complicated the task. We need greater investment in democracy and governance programming as well as more development assistance that targets underlying social, environmental and economic deficiencies in Mali We welcome the recent agreement to a 24 month timeline between the regional bloc known as ecowas, the economic community of West African states and the transition government. We joined ecowas in insisting that the transition government turned its full attention to implementing the reforms necessary to set molly on the path to democracy. We stand ready to assist as long as the transition government moves towards a constitutional referendum and elections As envisioned. We are committed to the Malian people and their aspiration for responsive democratic governance. We know that Malian people also want security. The civilian casualties resulting from the reported tactics used by the Wagner Group alongside Malian armed forces, will only serve to show further divisions in Malian society undermine the credibility of those armed forces and drive communities into the hands of violent extremists. The U. N. Mission, known as Minusma, shares our goal of protecting civilians. We will be watching closely to see how the mission operates without French reassurance flights from Operation Bar Con. We are also welcomed the review envisioned in the new mandate to see how we can strengthen the mission’s operations. We are very concerned by the statement made by Mali’s transition government expressing its intent to deny minusma the freedom of movement, it needs to fulfill its mandate. Uh we will be working closely to make sure that you can carry out its mandate despite these verbal threats. In Burkina, Faso. We are encouraged by the transition government’s proposal to shorten the timeline to return Burkina to democratically elected civilian led governance by six months. While the January 24th military coup d’état triggered restrictions on US assistance. We remain committed to helping the country under available authorities in order to address instability, prevent the spread of violent extremism and support reforms to advance accountable democratic rule. Chad has a historic opportunity to change direction after decades of authoritarian rule to capitalize on this on this opportunity. We have emphasized the importance of a peaceful, timely political transition. In line with the principles outlined by the African Union 2021 Communique. These include peaceful resolution of negotiations with the country’s insurgent groups now taking place in Doha, hosting a national dialogue that is inclusive of all voices and holding free and fair elections that lead to a democratically elected and civilian led government. Mauritania remains one of our most stable partners in the Sahel. We continue to work to support the President’s leadership in tackling terrorism and improving governance. The same is true in, one of our most reliable and most willing partners in the Sahel. Uh and we are value their partnership and are committed to supporting the leadership of the President. Finally, Mr. President Mr. Chairman, The News strategy identifies the threat to border countries in coastal West Africa, which are most at risk from violent extremist spillover from the saddle, as well as vulnerable to internal factors that mirror the governance challenges in the saddle. We will use the lessons learned from the innovative approach outlined in the global fragility Act in Coastal West Africa to inform and reinvigorate our programming and coordination in this. A hell thank you. Thank you. Administrator Jenkins. Chairman Menendez, thank you. Senator rounds, distinguished members of the committee. Thank you very much for the opportunity to testify today and for bringing attention to the urgent needs of this critically important region. I am particularly glad to be testifying with my colleagues from the state and defense departments as we are actively working to prevent the saddles problems from creeping into West African countries as we implement the Global fragility Act and the U. S. Strategy to prevent conflict and promote stability. Looking across the Sahel, we see a region where the confluences of U. S. National security interests means we must devote attention and resources to supporting key partners. We also see a region that is particularly fragile with weak governments characterized by corruption and lack of accountability. Unprofessional security forces, limited services and opportunities for citizens. Intercommunal conflicts, large gender inequalities and armed groups looking to recruit the Sahel is beset by problems, many problems all exacerbating each other. It’s a region where decades of undelivered promises have continuously eroded what were never strong, thriving democracies. It’s a region where we’ve seen young people dancing in support of military takeovers, waving Russian flags and repeating the disinformation that targets them relentlessly. And it’s a region where violent extremists prey on a generation that sees little promise holds little hope feels little agency and is desperate for many of life’s most basic needs add the effects of climate change like desertification and multi seasonal drought. The impact of a pandemic on fragile political and public health systems and the global food security crisis brought on by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and you have a region in crisis. Each factor exacerbates the other fragility. Beginning beginning fragility. So what is to be done us?
Foreign assistance has an important role to play in supporting partner governments to manage threats and improve stability and security. We need to bring fresh thinking and new tools to bear in reducing democratic backsliding corruption and other drivers of illegitimacy combating disinformation and limiting openings from align external influence in the countries of the Sahel. We must support timely democratic transitions in Burkina Faso chad and Mali and critical political, social, economic and governance reforms across the region. To reduce corruption and prevent further democratic erosion. We should enable governments to enhance their presence in underserved areas and decentralize their service delivery, foster increased citizen trust in their governments, mitigate the risk of intercommunal conflict, improve business enabling environments and reduce cycles of political instability. By demonstrating that democracy can deliver tangible benefits for all. We must help our partners adapt and manage consequences of ongoing climate change and displacement. This will require close and genuine partnerships with local actors, including governments, civil society and the private sector. None of this will take root without strengthening and expanding the role of African institutions in balancing regional threats and opportunities with underlying macroeconomic conditions. We will have to get better at shifting more leadership ownership, decision making and implementation to the people and institutions who possess the capability connectedness and capable and credibility to drive change in their own countries and communities. How can Congress help us?
We cannot do this important work without the resources you generously provide every year. But U. S. I. D. And other parts of the U. S. Government working this problem set cannot know with certainty the shape of the conflict years out. We ask you to consider granting more flexibility to allow us to adapt as the facts and needs on the ground change quickly. It’s a model that has succeeded and one U. S. A. D. Wants to scale to the size of the problem. Similarly, USA Dc’s great utility and further conversation on flexible hiring mechanisms and better incentivizing our people to fill positions in the field where they are needed. Often side by side with the Department of Defense and Department of State colleagues. Our missions and offices in the region are chronically understaffed, even though the work is critical to our national security for all the enthusiasm of an integrated approach between departments and agencies here in Washington. The greatest difference comes in the field alongside colleagues and international partners tackling these complex challenges together. Thank you again for convening this important hearing. Look forward to your questions. Thank you. Secretary Blyden. Thank you. Chairman Menendez, ranking member Risch, senator rounds and members of the committee. It is an honor to testify before you today alongside Assistant secretary fee to discuss the Department of Defense D. O. D. S. To help policy and how D. O. D. Is working to align its activities within the United States, whole of government health strategy. The National Defense Strategy outlines three high level security priorities in Africa namely countering violent extremist organizations, the Eos that pose a threat to the U. S. Homeland and U. S. Interests to strengthening allies and partners to support mutual security objectives. And three addressing targeted strategic competition concerns that present a military risk to the United States. In this hell, these three priorities intersect in a manner that requires not only an integrated approach but a whole of government approach. Over the past six months, we’ve seen that the intersection of these three challenges in the Sahel has resulted in military coups, unconstitutional political transitions. Democratic backsliding in West Africa the inherent spread of V. E. O. S. And an exponential increase in their attacks, destabilizing presence of Russia’s Wagner group and the withdrawal of French and other allied forces from Mali. These challenges transcend national borders and therefore require a coordinated regional approach as such. It would behoove us to address them together with our African partners. V. O. S. Are increasingly exploiting power vacuums, instability, local tensions and weak government institutions and governing practices these groups jeopardize stability, democracy and peach peace, which further provides opportunities for extremism to proliferate, creating a vicious feedback loop that is fueled by a lack of good governance and human rights accountability. When government struggle to maintain security, deliver essential services, uphold humanitarian principles or even provide economic opportunities and conflict environments, conditions are ripe for V. E. O. S to exploit and appeal to vulnerable and unprotected marginalized populations. Furthermore, illicit networks that traffic drugs, weapons and persons across the continent create the conditions that empower V. E. O. S and serve as a lucrative resource of revenue for these groups and allows for their expansion across the continent. There are over a dozen active ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliates on the continent from the saddle to the lake chad basin from Somalia to Drc. These groups vary in their intent and capability to attack U. S. Interests with those in the Sahel among the most capable in this hell. We’ve seen the rapid expansion in open movement of Jamaat al assam while missile um otherwise known as jane um and the Islamic state in the greater Sahara I. S. G. S within Mali into neighboring Burkina, Faso and southward to the western Africa equatorial countries VE. O. S. Continue to spread towards coastal West Africa. And if left unchecked will add to existing security challenges in the gulf of guinea and coastal West Africa, D. O. D. Is working closely with state and U. S. A. I. D. To develop programs for coastal West African countries as part of the global fragility Act, as mentioned by my colleagues and the U. S. Strategy to prevent conflict and promote stability. The strategy implementation in coastal West Africa will help boost bolster coastal states against the encroachment of V. E. O. S from the saddle, an already complex situation in Mali has been exacerbated by the presence of Russian backed Wagner group and additionally the withdrawal of forces under the French operation of our con have also um created uh challenges to allowing the minusma mission or the United Nations mission in Mali to continue its operations. Given these new and increasing challenges. We the US, our allies and especially our African partners need to consider the root of our counterterrorism efforts as we’ve experienced in other key theaters. Failing to understand the root causes of local levels and at the local level and understanding our partners, their will to fight can have significant consequences. We need to integrate our entire approach in the saddle with our African partners or we risk undermining our own efforts and providing additional opportunities for V. E. O. S. And strategic competitors to gain access and influence. is one of our most critical and crucial security partners in the Sahel and they continue to set the example of democracy in the region. We need to continue to support the government of as our partnership with them is critical to success in the region in Mauritania. We hope to increase professionalization engagements with social partners given its lengthy border with Mali And hosting the G5 to Hell Defense College, enabling Mauritania into a more active role as part of the broader health strategy is important. While chad remains one of the most capable partners in the region ending our U. S. Security cooperation has affected our bilateral engagement as the transitional Military council works towards a return to democratically elected and civilian led government. We remain committed to supporting the will of the Chadian people. Chad was only one of six countries of the African continent to endorse Russia’s suspension from the U. N. Human Rights Council. Chad is faced with terrorist threats, humanitarian crisis and malign Russian influence in its own region. The United States has the potential to provide meaningful security cooperation to train chad’s military and civilian services, especially given its role as a troop contributor in the U. N. And regional peace operations. We are encouraging our European allies and African partners operating in this hell to adopt a similar approach to what you’ll hear about from this strategy. One that seeks solutions that are integrated whole of government and African led. We assess that unilateral military action is insufficient to address the scope of threats we face on the continent. And although the continent is awash with new initiatives, it would truly benefit from management of the international community support to our partners and their locally supported efforts to this end, we continue to better understand our partner security needs designing and implementing our programs and engagements along mutual priorities as we examine a new approach in the saddle. It is critical for us to work with our African partners in order to implement a shared vision for the future of African security. Our role here is to enable African partners to be successful in owning their own security for their benefit and ours and the best way to help them own their own security is to allow them to lead, shaping our support to their efforts. Our adversaries are well aware of Africa’s strategic potential and are devoting resources and time to strengthen their partnerships on the continent. As part of its engagement, Russia and the PRC routinely provide training and defense articles to African nations. While our African partners have stated repeatedly that they prefer our training and defense articles, they turn to our competitors when we are not responsive to their requests, we must work to be more responsive and more present if we are to succeed in this arena. Let us not forget, the PRC seeks to expand its access and the PRC basing on the continent remains a key concern as this committee is probably aware. The PRC seeks to open additional basis tying their commercial seaport investments in east west and southern Africa closely with involvement by Chinese military forces in order to further further their geostrategic interests, MS Blyden, you’ve been about seven minutes. So you can summarize for us. I will wrap up and conclusion the circle is a region where our three NDS priorities in Africa intersect, requiring an integrated whole of government approach that leverages our allies and partners but puts our African partners in the lead with respect to restoring and preserving security on the continent. I apologize for taking a little extra thank you very much. Um start around five minutes. I’m pleased to know that the administration is on track to deliver a strategy for the Sahel in keeping with the requirements of the trans Sahara counterterrorism Partnership program Act of 2021 which I sponsored. I appreciate the consultations that have occurred to date on the staff level. And I consider this hearing of continuation of those consultations. As I mentioned during my opening statement, I will have input into the strategy as a result of our conversations and today and those that have taken place. But I’d like each of our witnesses to elaborate on the following question. For two decades successive administrations have focused heavily on security in the Sahel. I agree that security must be one element of our approach but I also think we need to balance defense assistance with our development and diplomatic efforts. How does the draft strategy differ from the approach of previous administrations with respect to balancing these. See these so called three D. S. Mr. Chairman, You’ll recall a year ago when I came before this committee for my confirmation hearing. I reviewed the testimony of your of the confirmation hearing of my predecessor in 2017 and at that time you asked him for a simple strategy and when I assumed office we still did not have a single strategy. So that was one of the first tasks. Yes, I know. Uh, and I tried to bring the lessons we have learned collectively as a nation from other theaters that are reflected in the global fragility act. So you will see in the, as your staff has looked at the new strategy, an explicit shift away from a security dominated focus to a diplomatic and development emphasis. Those of course are difficult tasks. As I mentioned in my initial statement that will take some time as my colleagues have said. And as as I have said, we could use more resources to help us implement those tasks and the current budget discussions underway in the administration. There’s an effort to address the allocation of resources to reinforce The outcomes in the strategy. So I would say we absolutely have taken the lessons that we’ve learned again as a nation over the past 20 years, specifically in the saddle in the past 10 years and and reoriented the strategy to reflect the concerns and the lessons we’ve learned. Administrator Jenkins. Any observations on that?
Thank you Senator. I’ve seen a lot of these strategies before and for many of them you can cut and paste the name of the country and the same objectives are in there. This isn’t like that. This is a real clear eyed honest assessment of where things are in this hell. It’s not a pretty picture what we have to do first. Let’s get these three countries back on democratic rails and how do we help them address the problems that they find themselves in. As Assistant Secretary fee said, this is these are generational problems. They will not be fixed in five years, but we have to start now and we now have a new strategy to do that that emphasizes not killing terrorists, but addressing the root causes. It’s hard work, it’s slow work. It needs to be resourced but now we have a strategy and we can get on with it. Secretary Blood, I would offer that. We’ve learned that the counterterrorism approach um that we have employed in the saddle and working with our allies and partners is not the only solution to the addressing the growing insecurity. I think we are shifting our approach from solely only focusing on the CT approach to being more inclusive of not just the whole of government approach, but also addressing things at the local level. So ensuring that African initiatives and initiatives that are led by African institutions and frameworks are being enabled to be able to address the security concerns on their own and that I think alongside with what we’re doing on the governance end and what we’re doing from a diplomatic end is helping provide a more holistic approach to addressing these. I think as both of my colleagues have said this takes time and allowing the the African partners to give us what they know will work is also key. Let me follow up with you in your written testimony. You mentioned that ending, I’m quoting you ending us. Security cooperation has affected our bilateral engagement with Chad. So did the coup affect our relationship at all?
Are you suggesting that we engage in business as usual with the military junta?
How would doing so reflect US values in your view and what message would that send throughout the region and for that fact throughout the world, by continuing to support a junta as though the coup had not taken place. Senator, I would not uh suggest that we should support a junta. Um I would say that in and are pulling back and not engaging regularly with um the military’s and many of the governments are absence and our ability to be able to provide influence whether it be at the governance structure, even training where we emphasize human rights values, where we emphasize a democratic approach um has inhibited our ability to be able to have access and our influence, I think is one of the key things that the US has been able to provide. So while I don’t necessarily proposed that we should continue to work with juntas, I do think having an ability to be able to work and talk to them um to be able to report our influence is key. Well talking to them um is different than engaging in security cooperation with them in which we are providing potentially resources. Right, so one of the committee’s jurisdiction is the question of arms sales. Um you know, it’s very difficult to be engaged in selling arms to a junta that has upended constitutional order in the country. And so that’s one of the challenges that I I believe we have here. And it seems to me that our focus in the region has been for some time on a purely uh counterterrorism. And and I and I understand that that is an important function. But when it becomes the sole driver and when our engagement with the military entities that are not under civilian control, ultimately uh continues and perpetuates them, uh that’s the problem. Um let me ask one final question. I know that the draft strategy is a five year strategy. How will the administration implement the strategy of three of the five countries in the Sahel are governed by illegitimate military juntas. With shifting timelines for yielding power back to civilian authorities. Mr. Chairman, as we saw recently with the engagement by the regional bloc ecowas with each of the governments in the region, uh excluding chad, which I can address separately. There is now a path to restore the transition to a stronger and more stable democracy. Uh and we can use 7008 does not deny us the use of resources to non-government entities to support the practices and policies of for example, civil society to encourage uh those successful transitions Uh in in chad which is not a member of ecowas. The government of Qatar has been hosting for the past 5 to 6 months talks between the government and their traditional insurgent rivals known as the political military groups and uh those talks, they they’re now down to a final draft which again would lay out a milestone to have a national dialogue to draft a constitution to have an election. So our proposal is that we would use the resources that are available to us in any increase in resources to help consolidate these plans to move towards a democratic rule senator rounds. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to follow up quickly with MS Blyden. Um how is the Department of Defense adjusting its approach to training military personnel of countries in the seal given the four coups that have affected the region in just the last two years. And I know that it’s one of the really important things that we are able to do in in terms of providing assistance is training military officers. What’s changed within this region due to those four coups, we now have less partners to be able to work with. Um I think as um Ambassador Fi noted uh the G five partners which included uh you know five of the civilian partners, we’re now down to two that we can actively work with. Um and that training in our absence of being able to provide our influence through security cooperation and human rights training and values that we typically put forth um is now absent from the larger uh porous borders. I think what we are hoping to do is how I mentioned in my statement is work with those two partners that we still can work with to increase their involvement. Were also doubling down I think on other African partners who are willing and are capable and are interested in providing additional support to this hell. So we have partners in other regions um as you mentioned in the onset uh North African partners who have been doing training in the Sahel already with several partners and we’re asking actively for them to take a stronger role in being able to provide what they’ve already learned from us in a secondary or tertiary training uh type security exporter. If you will model. Thank you. Um ambassador fee challenges with staffing at US embassy post on the seal is currently a significant challenge in implementing U. S. Policy in the seal and will be a major constraint to implementing the new interagency approval approved us to Hell Strategy. How is the State Department making certain that President Biden’s nominees for ambassadorial posts in the Sea Hill are well qualified with prior experience serving in the region. Are those from We are Empire four initiative. No. Mhm. Well, great. That sort of coast of South. Yeah. How?
Mhm accepted what?
Yeah. Yes. In terms of uh not having sufficient staff in the entire State Department as well as the specific challenges for the Africa Bureau, as you’re aware that what is known as the D committee, the Deputy’s committee handles the selection of nominees uh for chief of mission and they look for diversity in background uh and in all in all ways uh in making those nominations that they present to the secretary to the president. Let me ask one more question with with regards to the State Department and how it is organized and how that may very well bear on the issues taking place in this the hell today. And in my opening statement, I laid out the differences between different organizations as to how we treat different geographical parts of Africa. If you go back to 2011 when NATO began its campaign against Libya’s Muammar, Gaddafi Mali’s government warned that Gaddafi’s removal would destabilize Mali Shortly after Gaddafi’s fall in 2011. Ethnic uh Tuaregs who had served in Gaddafi’s military returned to Mali joining an insurgency against Mali’s government in January of 2012. That was eventually co-opted by Islamist groups. Does this experience provide any lessons learned with regard to how our North African policy can affect the Seal Senator, as I mentioned when I spoke to the chairman, I did a lot of research before I took this position. And I found that a f the Africa Bureau used to be part of the N. E. A bureau, The Near Eastern and African Affairs Bureau and it was broken apart about the time of decolonization to reflect the interests and priorities of sub Saharan African nations absolutely that they overthrow of Gaddafi resulted in dramatic and negative impacts in the saddle and in North Africa. Uh So I absolutely agree with your concern about those outcomes. Um However, I think we have a very strong relationship with the N. E. A bureau and we are able to work together to look at the crosscutting issues. I meet regularly with the newly confirmed Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf for Near Eastern affairs and our embassies are in regular contact and including travel back and forth uh to coordinate and collaborate on issues in Mali. Specifically, we’re looking at the implementation of the Algiers accord which resulted from the Tuareg rebellion. So it’s absolutely important that we work together. Uh and I think this issue of how we organize ourselves has been under discussion in different ways for decades, but it’s important that those of us in positions now work together continuously. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Senator Kaine. Thank you Mr. Chair and thank you to the witnesses MS Blyden. I think I’m going to focus on you because I’m an Armed Services committee member and these these are questions that might be more appropriate there. But I’m I’m curious. Um The French have been doing counterterrorism operations in Mali since 2013. They have about 2000 troops there. They’ve announced this year that they’re going to withdraw those troops because of conflicts between their operations there and the government of Mali. They’re likely to redeploy some of those troops in where we have about 800 troops. How is the withdrawal of French and Eu forces from Mali likely to affect the U. S. Military operations in the region?
The shift in in the French, the location and the repositioning um is seen both as a challenge but I think it’s also a positive. I think as we’ve talked about we see the spread uh moving towards the coastal west Africa countries and we’re seeing an opportunity with the French repositioning to really rethink where it is that we might need bolstering of African partners to be able to continue to counter the violent extremist threat. And so the French are thinking through that with us, they’re working with us and the positioning of where we have our troops to make sure that there’s enough coverage between the African partners, the French operations that they’re doing as well as looking at where the peacekeeping mission is in Mali and um where African partners have provided their own initiatives to be able to, as I said, ensure we have coverage across the hall to try and prevent encounter what we see as a as a spread towards the laterals. I think our operations and the support that we provide will continue in a way but it will be spread more widely. I think across the number of partners who will be doing the work that they do. I don’t want to take too long with this answer, but I do think it’s important to note that there are other partners besides the French who we’ve been working with as well in this region. Task force to Cuba which has had some European allies as well. And they are also thinking about how we can ensure that we have enough coverage um to continue to prevent the spread. The second of the three goals you mentioned in terms of the National Defense strategy was shoring up partners and you testified the as sort of the The most solid partner in the region. So if we take the US forces about 800 which is I think second highest only following Djibouti We take those 800 forces and if some of the French forces come there to that can serve both goals. One and two of the three goals that you mentioned. I am interested In the following up on the deadly ambush that happened in in 2017. US Army Green Berets lost their lives for troops from were killed. It was an unusual mission. It was an advise and assist training mission. There was not an expectation that it would be kind of in a conflict zone. The conflict developed the group that we you know that that killed our troops in were not was not a group that the US had designated as a as a terrorist group at that time. Um What has been the assessment or alteration or reassessment of the advise and assist missions in the Sahel following the death of these green braise senator, I would have to come back to you on an answer on that. Um As you know the the tongo tongo incident has been um researched and widely investigating to ensure that there has been accountability for the challenges that happened and occurred during that particular mission. But I would be remiss if I told you I knew exactly what the details of that that were. So I would like to take that question for the record if I um well we’ll submit it in writing and in particular, I’m aware of some of the analysis of what happened. But I’m particularly interested in whether the D. O. D. Has done adjustments or alterations to the advise and assist missions in the region as a result of those lessons learned. So we’ll do a written question for the record that specifically on that point with that Mr. chair, I yield back yes. Um So let me ask another question since I have the opportunity, there’s no other members seeking recognition at this point. I wanna follow on on the ranking members comments about hiring ah numerous State Department direct hire positions at U. S. Embassies and the Sahel remain unfilled in For instance more than 40% of State Department direct hire jobs in our embassy are vacant. Overall in this held 22% of us direct hire positions remain unfilled. So how is it that regardless of uh the strategy that we put together and that hopefully we will mutually agreed upon, we will be able to implement such a strategy. The absence of that many direct hires and the absence of full U. S. A. I. D. Missions in chad Burkina, Faso Mauritania. Uh In terms of implementing the strategy isn’t it called for a a real commitment to beef up and to ensure that these direct hires and other important positions get staff in order to implement the strategy. Otherwise we have a strategy on paper but not an implementation. Mr. Chairman. We agree with you wholeheartedly. Um I simply can’t do my job if we don’t have people in the field and that’s where I expect the fingertip uh confidence to understand what’s going on and to make recommendations and to implement U. S. Policy effectively. I think there are many components to this problem set. I talked about the general insufficient staffing for the State Department. We’ve talked about what the administration is trying to do uh to compensate for previous years. That led us to that deficit. I’ve talked about the challenges some of those percentages you are referring to our specific specialties like um uh medical personnel or um uh I. T. Personnel very hard to compete in the current environment. We also lost a lot of councilor officers because we’ve tied the staffing of our counselors. Cohn to visa fees and visa fees went down during the covid era. Um We’re missing chief submission and a lot of posts as you know chief submission are one way to attract and invigorate uh post staffing morale. And uh and then there are steps we can take that. I’ve talked to you about that. We’re working on to increase incentives and to adjust the way in which we recruit for for those. So that seems to be uh the uh there needs to be a commitment from the top to ensure that this happens administrator. How about A. I. D. Thank you very much. Um as the secretary alluded to, it’s a complex problem. Those vacancies are partly due that we have many more positions around the world and we actually have foreign service officers to fill those positions for a variety of reasons. So it’s not as though they’re not in this a hell but there’s somewhere else. There just aren’t enough qualified staff and senator. As you mentioned it’s not just having the right having people in those places. We want the right people in those places. So that’s where we are excited to be having a conversation about possible additional hiring authorities, other mechanisms. We are doing everything we can to hire more foreign service officers after what was a hiring freeze in the last administration that that affected the entire throughput of at various levels. Um, so I could not agree more that we want the right people and more of them in the region to implement the strategy. Seems to me that when you have difficulty in finding the right people and the people necessary that you create some type of incentive to attract the right people that maybe you normally don’t do. But one other question, I’m deeply concerned about the negative influence of Russian mercenaries and the Wagner group in Mali and across the Sahel. The draft strategy acknowledges the seriousness of this problem, but in the most recent State Department budget request, it doesn’t appear to be a line item for countering Russia’s malign influence in the Sahel. So, what actions are each of your agencies taking to counter Russia propaganda?
And the Wagner’s group influence in Mali. Is there a specific fund to support countering malign influence in Africa and the budget request?
Um, I’m trying to understand how we’re gonna do this, we recognize as a problem, what are we going to do about it?
Some of the steps uh, that are under consideration um, and actual planning uh, include trying to dry up the source of financing. So looking at possible sanctions, looking at possible nontraditional measures such as um the illegal export of gold, which is something that is of great interest to Wagner, How can we address those concerns, were looking at deepening our exchange of information with African governments to make sure they understand fully what we understand about the impact of Wagner and a third element uh which are bureau political military Affairs is undertaking is trying to develop other options for security assistance. Were the best but were expensive. And we’re slow uh and sometimes quite rightly as it has been illustrated in this hearing, we suspend security assistance to reflect our values. Uh so we want to deter governments in the region from turning to Wagner to fill their security needs. So we’re looking to see what we can do in terms of developing alternative sources of security systems. So, so those are some of the 33 areas in which we’re trying to work to address the problem. Secretary for the Department of Defense, we’ve had legislation 13 32 which was in this year’s NBA which provides funding to both South Command Africom to counter strategic competition on the continent. And specifically working looking at china and also the Wagner group and uh Mali and across the Sahel. Mhm. And we have global resources towards disinformation. But in this hell specifically where disinformation, including Rush pro Russia disinformation was a problem for some time in Mali, that problem became exponentially larger. Once Faulkner group arrived and once the French left, I would never have thought I would see the day where people in Burkina Faso and Mali were waving pictures of Richard Wagner, a German composer who died in 1883 as some sort of hero. So we immediately pivoted some of our civil society programs, programs working with youth and working with civil society on elections towards disinformation. We’re about to send a C. N. Up to you all for additional $5.5 million molly specific. That is for tracking disinformation, the production of responsible production, responsible consumption of information and also a very robust monitoring, evaluation and learning components. So we can learn from this project as we go to other countries and spread that out because unfortunately I think we’re stuck with this information problems for quite some time. Look forward to seeing senator coons around. I am very encouraged by the level concerning persistence here and by the engagement by the administration, the release of the strategy, by the administration for how to deal with this region. Um and as each of you referenced in your testimony, the global fragility act, which I worked on for a number of years with members of this committee um calls for a coordinated strategic approach to challenge is very similar to what we see in the sale challenges the fragility where we need to work across the silos of defense development diplomacy and bring in other partners, not just European partners, regional partners to work with nations on the ground who are having challenges to deliver not just the right strategy but the right people from the United States and to bring in Ngos and other partners. So I’d be interested in your view. The Global fragility Act did not identify this. How identified of the countries of the jeez I’m sorry, could any of you hear me?
Thank you. I don’t think I’ve done that in a decade. Um we’re usually the ones saying please the microphone. Um so the Global fragility Act based on plan Colombia and the experience of many who served before me of investing in stabilizing at 1.1 of the most fragile countries in the Western hemisphere and gradually moving through a coordinated strategy towards a less conflict ridden country. Um There are already ways in which the conflict and the instability in the Sahel are leaching into each of the coastal countries of West Africa. But taking that general approach, hearing the questions of the members of the committee, how are we going to work better together as a country in addressing the pressing the critical governance, development and security needs of countries like Mali and Burkina. Um How are we sustaining any coordinated regional strategy and what do you most need from us?
I happen to also chair an appropriation subcommittee and spoke as recently as last night to the administrator of U. S. C. I. D. About some of these hiring flexibilities. We want to make sure that you’re communicating effectively with this committee and with other committees about exactly what do you need to deliver to meet this moment if you would please in order. Um I’d just be interested in hearing how what is our strategy for engagement with our partners and allies in the region and the other donors and the other countries that are capable of delivering development, diplomacy and security assistance. Senator, thank you for your leadership and interest in innovating our policy in this area. Uh One of the other components of the Sahel strategy uh when I first as I described, when I first took on this task and started looking at it is I recommended that you say join the Sahel alliance, which is a grouping of donors to make sure that we were working in partnership as this committee has directed us to do particularly with our European partners in this hell. I don’t know if you’ve been informed, but you know, we recently had a global Chiefs of Mission conference and we uh we had a seminar with all of us involved in implementing the global fragility act in coastal West Africa. Uh and everyone is extremely excited about the new flexibilities and the new resources. Uh and there are detailed plans that have been set forward, and one of the key components of the conversation was how to make sure that we stay coordinated and knitted up and how we can demonstrate that we’re using those resources and flexibilities, not only to good effect in the Sahel, but perhaps to come back to to recommend maybe how to carry over uh that approach to other problem sets. Of course this hell is in a different place than Coastal West Africa. Regrettably in a worse place. We have frankly a little bit more to work with in terms of partners and capabilities and in coastal West Africa. So I think it’s a good first uh uh if you will demonstration effect of the approach, I have joked with rob that I wish state had an O. T. I. I have been looking very hard at the challenges we have faced in in uh in the saddle uh and elsewhere in Africa in terms of uh military coups and how can we respond?
Are we agile enough. Do we have the right staff, Do we have the right resources to go in and help governments put things back on track to take actions like the ones rob referred to with regard to um countering disinformation. So if you’re interested in where it’s hard for us for me for example, to predict chad it looks to me like they may get to this agreement but I can’t really tell you where they’ll be in three months or six months. Uh So sometimes it’s hard given our budget planning cycle uh to um be adequately prepared for a very fluid and dynamic environment. Thank you. Be happy to talk with you about that in more detail. Mr. Chairman can the other to answer Or should we if you could briefly Sen. 1st. Thank you so much for your leadership on the Global Fragility Act. My team is on point at us a d for working with our regional bureaus on implementation of the strategy. I can talk for a long time. You don’t have a lot of time. We would love to spend time getting into detail on exactly what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, what we’re looking to do and what we need but we do need additional flexibility. Thank you so much all of you for the flexibility we’ve been given not just under the terms of G. F. A. But lately but we could always use more much more. We need to do more to get your trust so we can have more flexible resources and keep that communication going. That’s something we would like to have from you. That partnership. We need your patience 10 years is a long time but we’re still 23 a half, You know, 10 year plans in our own country and we’re not sure what the constitution always means when an agreement with each other. So I love that you reference plan Colombia Colombia is an example I often use because once security was there and the political will was there and the strategic patience was there?
Our government worked in an interagency fashion. That is extremely rare. That is what we need to do and have to do if we’re gonna make the global gradually act succeed the way we need it to be. Thank you. Uh I’ll be even briefer uh flexibility of funding and resources, I think also giving a little bit of latitude on time. I had the privilege of working on plan Colombia when I sat on the hill um and used that to work with a number of congressional members on the House Armed Services and fact to develop an Africa Act um that I think mirrored what plan Colombia did. I think the inter-agency coordination and the ability to be able to look out over a period of time is something that is needed for Africa as well. And so I would encourage you to maybe revisit that legislation um that was introduced a few years ago um to see if it could be something that could be employed in the African context as well. I think from a security side um coordination, the U. S. Department of Defense has a ability in the US in general has an ability to be able to convene partners together and that’s a strength that we have that um I think will enable us to be able to be more successful in the African context. Thank you all very much. I am very concerned about Russian disinformation, particularly around Ukraine. Um and whether or not it is their aggression or our sanctions that are causing significant hunger and development disruptions around the world and look forward to working with all of you. Uh, and your agencies are around that challenge. Thank you very much for your forbearance. Mr. Chairman. Just a comment before I turn to Senator rounds. Uh, you know, there’s always the friction b I’m sorry, I’ll turn the center from Holland first. Um there’s always the friction of you want flexibility, but we need justification because we are responsible for the, you know, fiduciary responsibilities here to the American people as well as understanding the policy. So if you help us understand what you’re going to do with the flexibility and give us some universe of of what it is, the type of thing you’re gonna do, it will be far more helpful to achieve the goal. Senator Van Hollen, thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank all of you for your your testimony and for your service. I know there’s been a lot of focus, at least conceptually on the new strategy and I’ve long been concerned that we don’t strike the adequate balance between going after terrorists and investing in long term stability in terms of democracy and development. So I’m pleased to see this strategy being unfolded. Um, I would like to get a little more granularity. Maybe. Um Assistant Secretary fee, you could give me an example whether it’s Mali Burkina Faso chad, how this, how we’re, how we’re doing something different because of this new strategy in one of those countries or pick another example. Just a little bit of meat on the bone would be helpful, I think in terms of aligning resources with the new strategy. Great. What we are trying to do right now in discussions about FY22 is work within the administration to reallocate resources into the democracy and governance space. So we’ve talked a little bit here about the difficulty of working with military led governments, but there are many components of a society that supported transition women active NGO activists, uh constitution drafting exercises those types of things. So we’re looking to apply those resources uh to implementing partners that have a long track record like um N. D I IR II fees and whatnot. Uh and also working with the regional organization ecowas to support technical advisors that they might provide. Um I mentioned also that we’re discussing how we can identify uh resources, targeted personnel resources to go out and help advise on how to move out of a military run government to a democratic government. So that’s the I think the first priority that we’re looking to re shift our allocation into those types of programs. Got it. And so, were we can expect to see that in the allocation of ai resources principally or you’re also include, what are the other resources are we talking about?
I have a very very tiny budget and I have worked hard to befriend f in the State Department. And but seriously, I have support from our leadership to try and implement the strategy and we’re doing that in partnership with U. S. A. D. And so it Assistant Administrator Jenkins. So that’s an area that you’re can continue to brief this committee and subcommittees with respect to, as you said, there’s a long list and get some detail. But we would I’d be interested in seeing how exactly you’re implementing this would be very happy to start that conversation and have that an active conversation. I’ll just add the way we got to the strategy was new as well with Development US Aid as a full partner at the table working on this together and stressing the need for the development work. We do not just the counter terrorism thing um that in itself and the fact that we have this now strategy, that is a shared strategy that we all are committed to is something that is is a great innovation. Um MS Blyden, I know that senator rounds um asked you about, you know, the number of countries where we’ve seen recent coups and I think you responded that well that does mean we have fewer partners going forward. Um I guess I want to back that up because what we’ve seen over time is a lot of the coup leaders in many cases are organizations, individuals that we have had a previous relationship with. Uh and I think that’s probably what drove some of the new strategy is trying to rethink how we go about doing that. Congresswoman Sarah Jacobs and I today are introducing legislation that would it’s called the Upholding Human Rights abroad Act. And what it would do is expand the leahy law requirements to also include a couple other D. O. D. Based programs that are not currently included. This is not an effort to tie people’s hands, but it’s an effort to accomplish what I think is the goal of this new strategy to make sure that we are not um unwittingly supporting and funding those who turn around and undermine democracy and development. So could you talk a little bit about, you know, lessons we’ve learned in some of these countries where despite um you know, despite what we thought were our best efforts, um we ended up having the boomerang come around and hit us in the head. Absolutely. I think maybe to answer part of your last question and then transition into this one, What we’re doing differently is uh even though we’ve always had a by with and through approach and you’ll hear Africom talk about that, it’s been by with and through a number of different partners. We’re really focusing now on the African Partners and looking at the multiple levels of where it is that we see engagement has been successful and where we maybe have lacked in providing additional support for us in our support to this health strategy. We are looking at investing more in our civilian lead defense institutions. So regional centers like the Africa Center for Strategic Studies that focuses on uh institutional capacity building when it comes to governance and parliamentary and managing security resources. We’re doing more to invest in that area. We’re also working more with our Institute for Security Governance which is under the Defense Security Cooperation Agency to provide additional training at the multiple levels. So whether it’s senior leaders, emerging security sector leaders, um or at the training and you know, sort of foot soldier level, we’re ensuring that we are giving the entire holistic approach uh to what it means to have security assistance and security cooperation from both a governance standpoint as well as the trainer, advise and assist which were typically known for. Thank you. Thank you Mr. Chairman. That thank you. Mr. Chairman. I know we’re getting down close to the end of this particular meeting and I just have one question I’d like it to go to each of you and perhaps in less than a minute you could respond back whether it be in in our diplomatic efforts or our economic development efforts or our national defense efforts. We have to recognize that there is a great powers competition going on. Russia and China are both very actively engaged and on the African continent and they are also very actively engaged within the seal. What is it that we’re doing that?
Perhaps China and Russia are not doing and vice versa. What is it that Russia and china are doing that?
We are not doing with regard to this particular area in your specific areas of expertise and I would begin with the ambassador please. Thank you senator. Um That’s almost an easy question because I think generally speaking we are the preferred partner in every sector for Africans. Uh we care about humans, we care about civilians, we care about unleashing their potential uh and that those are not uh areas of focus for Russia or china so that I think is the biggest difference that we work beyond governments with all sectors of society to encourage governance that is inclusive and unleashes the potential of of society. Mr. Jenkins, I agree wholeheartedly. I would sum it up as partnership Russia and china enter into transactional relationships. We if we’re doing what we should be doing is listening, partnering and working not just at the national level but localization, working with local people, finding them where they are helping them with what they want, help on and working in true partnership MS plane. I agree with both of my colleagues and would say that we stand on the foundation of democracy, human rights and governance. And I think the other thing that we offer is uh civilian civil military relations and the understanding of how this works symbiotically to ensure that there is good governance in the country and I think the transactional approach that both Russia and china take um have resonated with our partners. They understand that we care you understand that we’re there to enable them for the long haul and that we understand that an organic African solutions are, are critical to the success of of security in the region. Thank you. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, thank you. Senator rounds one final question for the rest. I’ll submit for the record. Following the 2012 military coup in Mali, we imposed travel bans on more than 80 individuals responsible for orchestrating or supporting the coup. We impose similar travel bans on military coup leaders in Mauritania in 2008, Guinea in 2009, Guinea pursue in 2012 and the Central African Republic in 2013. Both Nikola and the European Union have imposed personal targeted sanctions on the leaders of the latest military coup in Mali. The United States however, has yet to take such actions in response to recent coups and Mali, Burkina, Faso chad guinea for that matter. So, ambassador, how do you explain this break with precedent, shouldn’t we have a consistent policy for imposing travel bans or other sanctions or military officers who seize power unconstitutional. Mr. Chairman. Such sanctions authority is an important tool that we can apply uh and we should continuously review one of the appropriate circumstances to apply in partnership in particular with the ecowas, so that our actions are reinforcing um I think these particular uh changes in government while very unwelcome reflected complex circumstances and there was an effort underway to see if we could encourage these leaders to get back on track. I think we’ve seen with the recent ecowas negotiations, at least a stated commitment to get back on track uh and so we should keep that tool in mind. But the objective was to drive the parties back towards democratic transition. Well, I would just say that both Echo and the European Union have imposed those types of sanctions, so we want to be in concert with them. I don’t understand why we have not and I understand it’s a powerful too. I I get the sense that the bureau is adverse to sanctions use and reticent about doing it and I don’t understand the limited to the holes of peaceful diplomacy that we have, why we refrain from it when other elements are not pursuing our interests and when we would be in synchrony with those entities in Africa that saw it important to go ahead and do so. We we’d love to hear from you on that. Um and I’d like you to more fully respond for me in the record. I want to thank all of our witnesses for coming before the committee to give their testimonies. While ultimately, our African partners must lead the way in addressing the problems in the Sahel. The least we can do is ensure that the assistance we provide is as impactful as possible. I look forward to continuing to dialogue with the administration on the strategy as it is finalized, The record for this hearing will remain open until the close of business on Thursday July 14 2022. Please ensure that questions for the record are submitted no later than that day and please be responsive as you can, as fully as you can when you receive the thanks of the committee for your testimony. This hearing is adjourned yeah.