Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to meet with leaders of five African nations this week. He is there to strengthen U.S.-African ties and discuss security and counterterrorism. The countries he will be visiting include Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Chad, and Nigeria. Certainly, his trip will also see him mending fences with leaders in the wake of President Trump’s “sh*thole countries” comment. That notwithstanding, Secretary Tillerson is in Africa to check in on counterterrorism efforts.
© Jeremiah Wakaya Secretary Tillerson’s plane touches down at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. He is received by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec.
Secretary Tillerson will be, “…visiting nations engaged in battling Islamist terrorism, including Djibouti, home to Camp Lemonnier, America’s largest and most vital African military base,” . Countries most steeped in conflict with prominent terrorist groups al-Shabaab and Boko Haram will command the bulk of the secretary’s time. Tillerson spoke at George Mason University hours before leaving for Africa. He provided the rationale for choosing the five countries, explaining that the United States has key prospects, troops, interests, and allies in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Chad, and Nigeria. Doubtless, he will be visiting Ethiopia which,“…is a close U.S. ally in its counterterrorism operations in East Africa, notably against al-Shabab,” .
© Austin Ludolph Before his departure for Africa, Secretary Tillerson discusses security, economic welfare, and counterterrorism with George Mason University’s President, Ángel Cabrera
Tillerson gives an impression of equanimity, praising, “…the role the African Union and G5 Sahel Group have taken on the security and counterterrorism front.” Tillerson pledged, “…$60 million from the U.S. to the G5 security force,” this year.  Trump’s feelings may differ. His, “…latest budget proposal in February slashed spending for Africa by 37%, down $3.1 billion from current levels,” . Time will tell how the trip affects counterterrorism and security measures in Africa. As you read these words, imagine Mr. Tillerson trying to repair this: