While Washington is winding down counterterror operations in Afghanistan and possibly Iraq, there is growing pressure from some quarters for an increase in U.S. military engagement in Africa. In mid-June, France announced an end to its counterterrorism operation in the Sahel, now in its seventh year. France is hoping the U.S. and countries contributing to a 15,000 strong peacekeeping force will step up to fill the void, but the ambush of four U.S. soldiers in neighboring Niger in 2017 raised serious questions about mission creep and oversight of U.S. troops on the continent. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is reportedly considering returning troops recently pulled by the Trump administration back to Somalia.
Why are the French leaving Mali? What impact did Western-backed security assistance missions have in diminishing terrorism threats and supporting democracy in the region? Why is the U.S. military looking to wind down operations in West Africa but at the same time considering returning troops to Somalia, despite significant democratic backsliding by the U.S.-backed government there?
The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs will host a panel discussion to shine a light on this undercovered region and provide recommendations for better oversight and accountability mechanisms to avert counterproductive mission creep and endless U.S. war in Africa.