Undeterred by the recent anti-US protests in the Arab world which has resulted in the killing of the American Ambassador to Libya, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ruled out its retreat from the Arab World.
“The United States will not retreat. We will keep leading and we will stay engaged in the Maghreb and everywhere in the world, including in those hard places where America’s interests and values are at stake,” Ms Clinton told a Washington-based think-tank on Friday.
“We will never prevent every act of violence or terrorism or achieve perfect security. Our people cannot live in bunkers and do their jobs,” she said.
The United States, Ms Clinton said, has made three priorities, the hallmark of America’s involvement in the region.
“We’ve convened donor conferences to coordinate assistance, leverage new partnerships through the G-8, the Community of Democracies, the OECD, and we have stepped up our engagement with the Arab League, signing the first-ever memorandum of understanding for a strategic dialogue between us,” she said.
“But we recognise that words, whether they come from us or others, are cheap. And when we talk about investing in responsible leaders and accountable democratic institutions, it has to be followed by actual investments.
“So we have mobilised more than $1 billion in targeted assistance since the start of the revolutions. And the Obama administration has requested from Congress a new $770 million fund that would be tied to concrete benchmarks for political and economic reforms, and I again urge Congress to move forward on this priority,” she said.
The recent riots and lawlessness underscore the challenges of safeguarding public safety in free societies and reforming security forces, she said, adding, that for decades, those forces protected regimes.
“Now their job is to protect citizens, especially against the threat from violent extremists. So we are using every tool we can to help our partners fight extremism and meet their security challenges.
“We recently embedded additional foreign service officers with regional expertise into the US-Africa Command to better integrate our approach,” she said.
Ms Clinton said the US is stepping up its counter terrorism efforts, helping the countries of North Africa target the support structure of the extremist group, particularly al-Qaeda and its affiliates, closing safe havens, cutting off financing, countering their ideology, denying them recruits.
“Our Trans-Sahara Counter terrorism Partnership is building the capacity of 10 countries, providing training and support so they can better work together to disrupt terrorist networks and prevent attacks.
We are expanding our work with civil society organisations in specific terrorist hot spots, particular villages, prisons and schools,” she said.