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Ilhan Omar launches working group on Africa

With uncertainty over committee fate, Ilhan Omar launches new working group on Africa
3 min read
Washington, D.C.
01 February, 2023
Amid uncertainty over Ilhan Omar's fate on the Foreign Affairs Committee, she announced a new working group on US-Africa policy, which she says will engage with and make a point of hearing people affected by US policy.
Ilhan Omar has announced the launch of a new working group on US-Africa policy. [Getty]

As US Representative Ilhan Omar continues to face uncertainty over her fate on the Foreign Affairs Committee, she has announced a new working group focused on US policy on Africa.

The US-Africa Policy Working Group, which the congresswoman announced in a press release on Tuesday, plans to hold regular briefings with US administration officials, NGOs and journalists to hear directly from those on the ground impacted by US policy.

"In order to have a sustainable, growing, and egalitarian African continent, we must find solutions on the continent—whether it is in agricultural productivity, infrastructure, democratic governance, combating extremism, or tackling the climate crisis," the press release from Omar's office quoted her as saying.

The press release appears to be a reaction to years of US policy in Africa, in which the continent did not appear to be viewed as a priority.

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"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. Congress has historically paid scant attention to the continent except when extreme circumstances have prompted reactive responses," Omar continued.

"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, explaining the ideals and goals of the working group.

"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.”

The statement goes on to say that the working group will be active in crises throughout Africa, and will also focus on the continent's success stories and hearing directly from Africans about their own perspectives.

The announcement comes at an interesting time, as House Majority Speaker Kevin McCarthy continues to try to gather enough Republican House votes to oust Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee. 

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On Monday, Congressman Matt Gaetz surprised many viewers on an interview with the right-wing news station Newsmax, when he said that he was was still undecided over whether or not he would vote to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.

"It makes me uncomfortable that the case against Ilhan Omar isn't being subjected to any due process. If they think that she's brough discredit on the House, there's actually a House rule where there can be an ethics investigation and there could be a resolution with due process," he said, adding that in some cases he has seen the value in her questioning US policy that has been detrimental in certain parts of the world.

A vote on Omar's fate on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is expected sometime this week, and could be as soon as Wednesday.