Ilhan Omar: US treats Africa as a threat that needed to be contained

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is seen during a press conference on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, to discuss Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) rejecting the assignments of Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) to the House Intelligence Committee.

African American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has said that “the United States has treated Africa as a threat that needed to be contained, a series of fires that needed to be put out, or a junior partner that needed to be disciplined.”

The Minnesota Democrat made the remarks in a statement on Tuesday as she announced to launch of the US-Africa Policy Working Group to benefit from officials and experts who work with and in Africa.

Omar said that the group will hold briefings with Biden administration officials, journalists and people affecting the relations between Africa and the United States.

She said that the group will focus mainly on conflicts within Africa and its global interests, as her House Foreign Affairs Committee assignment remains unclear.

“Our role must be as partners with the movements and civil society groups acting on the ground,” Omar said in the statement. “For far too long, the United States has treated Africa as a threat that needed to be contained, a series of fires that needed to be put out, or a junior partner that needed to be disciplined.”

She said that Congress has paid little attention to issues in Africa.

“Congress has historically paid scant attention to the continent except when extreme circumstances have prompted reactive responses. The US-Africa Policy Working Group will be a venue for the promotion of American values and American interests in our dealings with our African partners,” she said.

“It is my sincere hope that it will become a central player in creating lasting partnerships and building up a base of expertise so that Congress can be more actively involved in US policy in Africa, and help move the conversation forward for many years to come,” Omar continued.

McCarthy following playbook ‘used by demagogues throughout history’

New US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has vowed to remove Omar from her committee posts over her condemnation of Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians.

Omar hit back at McCarthy and his Republican Party, saying they "use fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism to target me."

Omar on Sunday said some Republicans are “OK with Islamophobia” in response to questions about efforts by McCarthy to block her from continuing to sit on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

She also said McCarthy is following a political playbook “used by demagogues throughout history” by trying to “pit minority groups against each other” in his bid to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

McCarthy attacked Omar, the first Somali American and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, for removal from House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In a thread on Twitter Sunday night, Omar cited repeated examples of Republicans making offensive comments about Muslims, and accused McCarthy of demagoguery.

“McCarthy is following a well worn playbook: pit minority groups against each other in order to further marginalize them. It has been used by demagogues throughout history and it won’t work,” Omar said on Twitter.

McCarthy “did nothing” when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) “said Muslims don’t belong in our government” and when Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) called Omar “a terrorist,” the lawmaker argued. 

“He did nothing when MTG wanted [Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)] & I kicked out of Congress unless we swore in on a Christian Bible. Spare me the GOP hypocrisy,” Omar said. 

Along with US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the two have triggered a widespread debate in the US about Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians and American aid to the regime.

Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are outspoken critics of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians and vocal supporters of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement. The two called “Israel” an “apartheid state” guilty of war crimes.

The 37-year-old US citizen and lawmaker is originally from Somalia and represents Minneapolis, Minnesota, a district with a large Somali population.

Omar has accused pro-Israel lawmakers of showing “allegiance to a foreign country,” and has criticized the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for its role in shaping US policy.

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