Africa, a Troubled Continent, Eyes Obama With Impossibly High Hopes

As the first African-American president, Obama will face extra pressure to deal with Africa's crises.

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Congo: A conflict in the eastern part of the country brings in both ethnic rivalry and the involvement of neighboring Rwanda. Recent fighting has involved the Congolese Army, Congolese ethnic Tutsi, and former Rwandan Hutu militias. The presence of 17,000 U.N. peacekeepers and mediation efforts have failed to restore peace.

Somalia: U.S. forces have been intermittently striking against Islamist militants in one of the world's most lawless lands, known to most Americans as the scene of an ill-fated, U.S.-backed U.N. peacekeeping operation in 1993. Islamist insurgents are fighting to regain power lost when neighboring Ethiopia sent in troops two years ago, with militias of some of Somalia's warlords also in the fight. The chaos has spawned a wave of piracy against ships passing off the country's coast.

Zimbabwe: Nationalist leader-turned-despot Robert Mugabe continues to block an opposition movement that was democratically elected from taking power—or even from sharing power as envisioned in a compromise arrangement that was negotiated. Mediation efforts led by South Africa have proved weak, and the region's governments have been unwilling to seriously squeeze the Mugabe regime. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is in free fall. About half of the remaining population is hungry or worse, and 4 million have fled to South Africa or Botswana. The economy has collapsed, with unemployment above 80 percent and hyperinflation rendering the country's money virtually worthless. Cholera is now a threat. 

  • Read more about the perilous world that Obama inherits.
  • Read about Iran's nuclear challenge.
  • Read about containing North Korea's nuclear breakout.
  • Read about how Afghanistan will be a hard war for Obama to win.
  • Read about whether Obama can begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
  • Read about how China will test the Obama administration.
  • Read about why Russia may become a big problem for Obama.
  • Read about the multiple crises in the troubled Middle East.
  • Read about European expectations for Obama's presidency.
  • Read about how Obama could change Cuba policy.
  • Read about Canada's and Mexico's wish lists for Obama.