Washington, D.C. - Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) recently returned from leading a congressional delegation (CODEL) trip to Africa and the Middle East, including stops in Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco and Burkina Faso.  The purpose of the trip was to educate key Congressional Members about the political, security and humanitarian situations of key countries in the region. U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), David Scott (D-GA) and Erik Paulsen (R-MN) joined Rep. Smith on the trip.

 “Several African countries, especially in central, eastern and northern Africa, as well as their Mideast neighbors, present growing national security concerns and troubling humanitarian crises,” said Congressman Adam Smith.  “While each country presents unique challenges, there are common themes.  From Kenya to Yemen, poverty and governance problems fuel instability, violence and extremism.  This is a region that the United States cannot afford to neglect, both for national security and humanitarian reasons.”

 The trip provided Members of Congress with invaluable direct contact with in-country U.S. and allied personnel who can provide first-hand explanations of their needs and challenges. The trip also allowed members of Congress to meet with key stake holders to gain a deeper understanding of the political and humanitarian situations of nations directly linked to U.S. national security interests.

 The trip included stops in countries across the continent and meetings with Special Operations Forces and heads of state and other key officials and stake holders.

 Below is a more detailed itinerary:

  • Burkina Faso. The members of Congress met the Country Team, counter terrorism officials, Prime Minister Tertius Zongo and President Blaise Compaore and visited cultural sites.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo. The CODEL met with United Nations representatives and other local officials, visited IDP Camps and health clinics to view the impact of regional conflict on women and children and met with local humanitarian groups operating in the region.
  • Kenya. The group met with the US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, the Country Team and counter terrorism officials, President Mwai Kibaki, met with members of Parliament and representatives of the Defense and Foreign Ministries.
  • Yemen. The CODEL met with the Country Team, US Ambassador Stephen A. Seche, counter terrorism and government officials and visited cultural sites.
  • Egypt. Members of the trip met with the Country Team, US Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr, counter terrorism officials, Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and visited cultural sites.
  • Morocco. The Members of Congress met with the Country Team, counter terrorism officials, local Moroccans, and officials at the US Consulate. 

“I will take the lessons learned from this trip and apply them to my work in Congress,” said Smith. “Africa has made strides in recent years, but many challenges remain. We should stand as a partner with the nations of Africa to achieve our common goals and move toward a more prosperous, secure region that benefits everyone.”