The U.S. formally recognized the Somali government for the first time in 20 years on Thursday when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahamud at the State Department. Hassan is the first permanent Somali president since 1991 and faces a daunting task of rebuilding a nation torn by conflict and Islamist insurgencies.
Audie Cornish talks to Howard French, associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a former, longtime foreign correspondent for The New York Times, about the relationship between France and post-colonial Africa.
A mass kidnapping in Algeria and an Islamist rebellion in Mali underscore Western concerns that the regional security situation is deteriorating. Both France and the U.S. have compelling interests in propping up Mali's fragile government against extremists, but stabilizing the country could prove a difficult task.
In an ongoing crisis in North Africa, the Algerian military has reportedly launched an operation in response to the dozens of hostages taken by extremist groups at a gas field near the Libyan border. NPR's Neal Conan talks with University of Cambridge lecturer George Joffe about the evolving situation.
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