Just recently, the AU launched an offensive on a small Island off the South Eastern coast of Africa, possibly to boost its image as a capable organization. Adam Wolfe, who writes the blog On Political Risk, dissects the situation for us in this World Politics Review article.
The African Union launched an invasion of a separatist-controlled island off the coast of Mozambique last week in part, to bolster the multilateral organization's image abroad. Around 1,300 AU troops joined 400 Comorian government troops to oust Col. Mohamed Bacar from Anjouan, one of the three islands that make up the Union of the Comoros. In a one-day fight, the AU-Comorian troops gained full control of the island, and Bacar fled to French-controlled Mayotte, the other island on the Comorian archipelago.
The only problem for the AU was that hardly anyone noticed the successful mission.
In the United States, there was almost no press coverage of the assault, and even less commentary from the government. The New York Times ran a 180-word brief on page A-12; the Washington Post's coverage barely eclipsed 50 words. The U.S. State Department issued a 100-word press release commending the operation, but spokesman Sean McCormack was not asked any questions about it at his daily press conferences last week.
I'm glad to see the AU having some type of meat behind it, yet the goals of the organization itself aren't that idealistic, as Wolfe points out below.
The AU participated in the attack for two reasons: to demonstrate to the donor community that it is capable of undertaking coordinated military operations and to serve as a warning to Africa's other secessionist movements. On both accounts, though, the mission will probably have little lasting effect.
One striking point is that the event, as Wolfe points out, was largely unnoticed. Do we simply not care? I mean it is just some small island off the coast of Africa, yet does Rev. Wright and a Clinton trip to Bosnia from the 90's warrant more discourse than this? Whatever the case, the AU needs some new PR consultants, because no one seems to care.
The African Union is no European Union, yet it is better than the Arab League but doesn't hold a candle to the UN. Yet again, that's not saying much.
Where I found this article:
World Politics Review