As Hillary Clinton tours Africa, one region of the continent is noticeably absent from her itinerary: northwest Africa, often known as the Maghreb, which stretches from Mauritania and Morocco across Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Clinton’s 11-day, seven-nation trip to Africa is a marathon of diplomacy by any measure, and the US secretary of state cannot be faulted for not visiting every state that would receive her. Yet at least one of the Maghreb nations should have made the cut.
Why? For one, visiting the Maghreb would reinforce the Obama administration’s commitment to an improved relationship with Muslim communities. In Cairo, the president called for "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect." Africa’s Muslim population is heavily concentrated in the northwest. Yet the region is often overlooked by US policymakers, who instead focus on the Middle East as the nexus of the tension between the US and the global Muslim population.
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