Opinion

Commentary: Africa must be a priority for Obama

It was a prophetic warning from a high-ranking State Department official.

On Nov. 13, just two days before Somalian hijackers seized a Saudi oil tanker, members of the Trotter Group, a collection of black columnists from across the country, were warned by Jendayi Frazer that Somalia is without question the most dangerous country on the African continent.

On Nov. 15, pirates took control of the Sirius Star and began holding the ship’s 25-member crew hostage. The hijackers at first sought $25 million in ransom, but have lowered their demand to $15 million.

Three days after the ship was seized, it was taken to Harardhere, 180 miles north of the lawless Somalia capital of Mogadishu. The hijackers have given the ship’s owners until Nov. 30 to pay the ransom.

During the interview at the State Department in Washington , Frazer, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of African Affairs, told the Trotter Group: "Certainly Somalia has been a failed state for 19 years, and it is still a failed state. It is, in fact, the hottest region for terrorist activity on the continent. Obviously terrorism is a global challenge. Somalia is a focal point of that challenge."

A major problem is that Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991.

"The instability of that country creates an easy sanctuary for terrorist activity," Frazer said.

To read the complete column, visit The Kansas City Star.

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