Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/Associated Press
President Donald Trump faced a massive international backlash after allegedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and several African nations as “shithole countries” in a Jan. 11 Oval Office meeting. But if you look past the cable news hysterics over the commander-in-chief’s word choice, the White House’s stance on Africa should come as no surprise: In the aftermath of the deadly ambush in Niger last October that left four Army special operations soldier dead, spurring concerns about the U.S.’s widening counterterror ops across the continent, the Trump administration’s stable of Africa experts and advisors is a ghost town.
At the end of September, the Department of State announced that it would recall half of its diplomatic personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Cuba following the sickening of 21 employees by “specific attacks.” A mysterious sonic weapon had left at least 10 American diplomats with injuries from hearing loss to brain trauma and nervous-system damage. Just weeks before, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had stated he was evaluating whether to shutter the embassy altogether amid the continued incidents.
Opponents of “radical alt-left” anti-fascist protesters have gathered enough online signatures on a White House petition over the weekend to get the Trump administration to consider labeling the group a “terrorist organization” — even though the petition appears to be plagiarized from elsewhere and offers up some embarrassing factual errors.
ISIS’ de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria, came under increased military pressure from U.S.-backed forces last weekend, with airstrikes destroying some of the extremist group’s military and oil infrastructure, and Syrian opposition forces capturing a northwestern neighborhood of the city.