Photo: via Eastern Congo Initiative
Things have gotten so bad in Africa that Ben Affleck is actually going to testify in front of Congress’ Armed Services Committee, Jeremy Herb of The Hill reports.Affleck, star of the movie “Argo” and “Good Will Hunting,” is actually pretty knowledgeable about the region, the Congo specifically, because he started a nonprofit organisation, the Eastern Congo Initiative, centered around relief efforts in the stricken country.
Affleck’s appearance is primarily for the Armed Services Committee to get a better idea of the situation on the ground in the country, but it highlights the instability of the continent as a whole.
Libya has recently militarized its southern borders as an attempt to stem the tide of Al Qaeda’s illegal arms trafficking. The arms, oddly enough, end up in Mali, which is just waiting to explode.
As we’ve reported in the past, fighters and weapons move freely around the region. U.S. efforts in Iraq may have pushed al Qaeda out, but the game has become one of geographic wack-a-mole, with major al Qaeda players popping up in regions where there is little American presence.
“This has to be a priority,” said Affleck during a recent appearance on ABC’s The Week with George Stephanopoulos. Affleck went on to retell a story about how the only well-disciplined, moral military unit in the area was also the only one that was American trained.
One might think Affleck was calling for American intervention, until Rep. Adam Smith (D) of the Armed Service Committee did so himself.
“China is actively engaged in the area, actively engaged in a mercenary way, pay whoever they have pay to get the minerals out, if we could bring greater stability, there’s a huge economic opportunity for us to take advantage of, for our benefit but also the benefit of the people there,” he said.
Indeed China has become a big player throughout the continent, even hiring former Blackwater founder Erik Prince to provide diplomatic and security “consulting.”
The House Armed Services Committee says the purpose of its hearing is to achieve an idea of the “evolving security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the implications for U.S. security.”
The implications seem clear though: couple economic opportunity with al Qaeda and China’s growing influence, and a recipe for U.S. intervention seems almost inevitable.
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