Libya: EU call promotes civil society, info day in Tripoli
at Tripoli's Planetarium Center on Thursday 24
(ANSA) - BRUSSELS, APRIL 23 - An information day has been scheduled in Libya for applicants interested in the EU call for proposals for the promotion of human rights and for reinforcing civil society with a budget of 3,800,000 euros. The information session, according to the Enpi website (www.enpi-info.eu), will be held on Thursday 24 April at 10 a.m. at Tripoli's Planetarium Center (Abu Seta). During the information session representatives from the European Delegation to Libya will explain the requirements and procedures necessary to present proposals for this initiative. There is no need for registration prior to the event. The global objective of this call for proposals is twofold: the first one is to strengthen the capacities of civil society to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as to push for democratic reforms in Libya; the second one is to support the development of a strong, cohesive and sustainable Libyan civil society community.
The reference of the call is EuropeAid/135664/DH/ACT/LY and the deadline for submission of proposals is 20 May 2014 (ANSAmed)
Libya and the ICC: Courting chaos and confusion
Any process of justice must be aimed at establishing stability and reconciliation among the affected communities.<!-- -->Last updated: 23 Apr 2014 05:42
The current jurisdictional stalemate concerning the on-going criminal proceedings against Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and his younger brother, Saadi, has once again called into question the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The current position is certainly not that envisaged following the popular uprising in Libya, but the lack of cohesion and indecisiveness of the international community once again demonstrates that a major rethinking is required.
Justice following conflict requires a measured approach. Any process of justice and accountability must be aimed at establishing long-term stability and true reconciliation among the affected communities. It is not about revenge or retribution however powerful the desire may be.
The US Chief Prosecutor Robert H Jackson, at the first Nuremberg trial, encapsulated this in his opening address on November 20, 1945. He stated that "[…]it [is] hard to distinguish between the demand for a just and measured retribution, and the unthinking cry for vengeance which arises from the anguish of war".
He went on to state: "We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to our task that this Trial will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity's aspirations to do justice."
This statement, known as the "Poisoned Chalice" speech, has often been cited when the judicial process starts to go wrong. I have frequently referred to these poignant words in my dealing with trials of mass atrocities in Bosnia, Bangladesh and Syria. It remains as relevant today as it was in 1945.
On April 14, the trial of the two Gaddafi brothers began in Tripoli. Both men stand accused of "orchestrating a campaign of murder, torture and bombardment of civilians" during the eight-month conflict in Libya. The trials however are already marred in controversy on the basis of evidential, detention and procedural issues to name just a few. Even before the trial started, there had been significant criticisms advanced due to the total absence of due process and the treatment of the defendants.
Whatever one thinks of the defendants, and indeed their father, is quite irrelevant considering the importance of these trials before a domestic court. This is Libya's opportunity to say we have moved on from an authoritarian regime and we are committed to the rule of law. However, what we are seeing now would appear to be merely a change in personnel.
Saif will testify via video-link from Zintan, where a local militia which currently holds him, refuses to hand him over to the state. The defence have already made substantial submissions to the courts on the basis that the prosecution have not disclosed their case files and therefore preventing any meaningful preparation of a defence case.
This is Libya's opportunity to say we have moved on from an authoritarian regime and we are committed to the rule of law. However, what we are seeing now would appear to be merely a change in personnel.
Saif is effectively being held incommunicado, with no access to lawyers, for the past 30 months. The ICC issued arrest warrants in 2011 for Saif, and has refused to grant the Libyan application to have him tried domestically.
Therefore the Libyan authorities are obliged to surrender Saif to the court. Considering the significant instability in the country, which has seen the interim prime minister's resignation and the kidnapping of the Jordanian ambassador to Libya, this really is the only sensible course of action. Chaos and confusion appear to reign in what now seems to be developing into an increasingly lawless state.
Leaving aside for a moment guilt or innocence, one must consider the integrity of the procedure and whether there is evidence to demonstrate that the Libyan court is competent to try these crimes and is sufficiently independent of the governing authority to try the cases according to universally recognised standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms - and finally whether it will demonstrate the requisite impartiality.
The flipside and illogical argument to transparency often advanced is that those on trial failed to respect the rights of the victims so why should we now respect their rights. It is accepted entirely that the population of Libya will want to see the trials on Libyan soil before Libyan judges. However, any process must be aimed at holding those accountable who are individually criminally responsible and if the evidence demonstrates their guilt, punished according to law. It must not be a process satisfying a lust for revenge.
In considering the fairness of the current proceedings, one must be reminded that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has been in solitary confinement and has had little or no access to a lawyer to enable any consideration of the charges against him. Thus far, he has not been brought before the Tripoli Court in any of the three pre-trial hearings and therefore has been prevented from challenging the legitimacy of his detention or the charges. Further, prosecutors state that more than 200 witnesses have been interviewed, and more than 40,000 pages of documentation obtained, along with video and audio evidence, notwithstanding the defence having had no opportunity to consider it.
The immediate argument, therefore, is that the trial process is fundamentally flawed and this is an argument that on the face of it has considerable weight. Any trial process must adhere to established principles of transparency and fairness. It is all the more important that a trial of this magnitude following the rebirth of a nation does so.
As much as it is challenging to separate oneself from a purely partisan approach given the gravity of the allegations and the damage done by the former regime, the people of Libya must adhere to the rule of law and not allow emotion to cloud their judgement and therefore undermine the entire peace process.
The only course of action at this stage is to immediately halt the trial. Thereafter, there are essentially two options. The first is that the defendants are transferred to the ICC in The Hague as previously envisaged. The second option, and one that may be more digestible to the people of Libya is that an independent judicial body is established in Libya with full international oversight.
As one who recognises that justice is better served in the very community where the crimes are alleged to have occurred, the establishment of an internationally supervised process working alongside national legal professionals, is arguably the best recipe for national accountability and lasting reconciliation. It is recognised that such a process would tend to render the ICC obsolete, but that is not the case. It must be recognised that the ICC is a court of last resort and is not the answer to each and every problem.
To allow the trial to continue in its present form will not achieve justice, it will simply be seen as a process by which revenge can be sought under the cover of a thinly veiled lid of legitimacy.
A country cannot progress and develop by way of acts of revenge.
A camp on the Libyan coastline meant to train terror-hunters has instead become a haven for terrorists and al Qaeda.
A key jihadist leader and longtime member of al Qaeda has taken control of a secretive training facility set up by U.S. special operations forces on the Libyan coastline to help hunt down Islamic militants, according to local media reports, Jihadist web forums, and U.S. officials.
In the summer of 2012, American Green Berets began refurbishing a Libyan military base 27 kilometers west of Tripoli in order to hone the skills of Libya’s first Western-trained special operations counter-terrorism fighters. Less than two years later, that training camp is now being used by groups with direct links to al Qaeda to foment chaos in post-Qaddafi Libya.
Last week, the Libyan press reported that the camp (named “27” for the kilometer marker on the road between Tripoli and Tunis) was now under the command of Ibrahim Ali Abu Bakr Tantoush, a veteran associate of Osama bin Laden who was first designated as part of al Qaeda’s support network in 2002 by the United States and the United Nations. The report said he was heading a group of Salifist fighters from the former Libyan base.
In other words, Tantoush is now the chief of a training camp the U.S. and Libyan governments had hoped would train Libyan special operations forces to catch militants like Tantoush.
One U.S. defense official told The Daily Beast that the media report matched U.S. intelligence reporting from Libya. Another U.S. official in Washington said intelligence analysts were aware of the reports but had yet to corroborate them, however. A spokesman for Africa Command declined to comment for the story.
Tantoush himself on Tuesday evening gave an interview to Libyan television where he confirmed that he was in the country but also said he had not direct or indirect link to the camp. In the interview, Tantoush, who was indicted in 2000 for his role in the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, also claimed he has never participated in terror attacks for al Qaeda, and boasted of traveling to Libya on a fake passport.
According to one U.S. official who is read into the training program, the camp today is considered a “denied area,” or a place where U.S. forces would have to fight their way in to gain access. Until now, the Western press has not reported that the base used to train Libyan special operations forces was seized by the militants those troops were supposed to find, fix and finish.
The fact that the one-time training base for Libyan counter-terrorism teams is now the domain of terrorists is a poignant reminder the United States has yet to win its war with al Qaeda, despite the successful 2011 raid that killed its founder and leader.
This is particularly true for Libya. Since the 9/11 anniversary attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, jihadist groups and al Qaeda’s regional affiliates have been gaining territory throughout Libya. News that a veteran like Tantoush is now in charge of a military base only 27 kilometers from Libya’s capital shows just how much the security in Libya has deteriorated.
Seth Jones, an al Qaeda expert at the Rand Corporation, said Libya is now a haven for many of al Qaeda’s North African affiliates. “There are a number of training camps for a wide range of al Qaeda and jihadist groups that have surfaced in southwest Libya, northwest Libya in and around Tripoli and northeast Libya in and around Benghazi,” he said.
Daveed Gartenstein Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, added that “We’ve known for some time that Jihadist groups have established training camps throughout Libya. But this is significant because of the camp’s proximity to Tripoli and because rather than creating camps in remote locations they took over a base used by the Libyan government.”
“I suspect they will not keep this camp for very long. It’s close to Tripoli and its location is known by the Libyan government,” he said.
One U.S. official who worked on the program said the U.S. Special Forces began to refurbish the base in the summer of 2012, before the 9/11 anniversary attack in Benghazi. The actual training, however, did not begin until the fall of 2012. One U.S. defense official noted the initial program at Camp 27 endeavored to train 100 Libyan special operations soldiers. But even this modest goal was never really in reach.
“The program has not achieved the outcomes that we hoped that it would and the Libyans hoped it would,” said Carter Ham, the now-retired four-star general who led U.S. Africa Command when the initial training program was established. While Ham said he was not aware of the latest reports that the base was now in the hands of an al Qaeda figure, he nonetheless acknowledged that myriad challenges—from the uncertainty in the leadership of the Libyan military to security on the ground—made it difficult to sustain the special operation forces training.
“The selection process for what Libyan unit and what Libyan soldiers would participate was probably not as rigorous as we would have liked it to have been,” Ham continued. “But this was a Libyan decision and they had to decide what unit and what individuals to enroll in the program.”
Ham said he remembered meeting with a small group singled out by the trainers as the emerging leaders. “That was promising,” he said. “It was not as widespread as we would have liked. The militia these guys came from, they did not have significant military experience and certainly not in a hierarchical organization.”
Things went downhill for Camp 27 in June of 2013 when two rival militias stormed the training facility and seized the equipment therein. At the time, no U.S. personnel were on the base, according to two U.S. officials who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity. The only soldiers protecting the base were local Libyans.
Nonetheless, the base itself had a number of American weapons that wound up in the hands of the raiding militias. Those raids were first reported by Fox News. The U.S. defense official confirmed these reports and said the militias were able to seize night vision equipment, M-4 rifles, pistols, military vehicles, and ammunition.
The emergence of Tantoush is particularly troubling to American officials. He is considered one of the original members of al Qaeda’s network. In 2000, he was indicted for his role in helping plan the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. According to his designation by the United Nations, Tantoush was the head of an al Qaeda support group based in Peshawar known as the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society. In the interview Tuesday with Libyan television, Tantoush said his work in Peshawar was entirely humanitarian.
Jones said, “Tantoush has a long history from the Peshawar days of associating with senior al Qaeda leaders including Osama bin Laden. He has been involved in financing and facilitating al Qaeda activities and he has had a long-standing relationship with Libyan jihadist groups.” Tantoush was also a senior member of al Qaeda’s one-time franchise in Libya known as the Libya Islamic Fighting Group. In the 2000s, former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi largely decimated that organization, leading some of its leaders to turn on al Qaeda itself. (Tantoush was not one of those turncoats.) Nonetheless, the group was able to assist al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq by using the port city of Dernaa to funnel volunteer fighters to al Qaeda’s jihad in Iraq in the last decade. Today, Dernaa is a key transit point for volunteers to join al Qaeda’s holy war in Syria.
Things were not supposed to turn out this way. The training program for Libya’s special operations fighters was authorized under section 1208 of the National Defense Authorization Act. 1208 programs differ from other special operations training missions because the funding is specifically for reimbursing foreign governments for assisting with counter-terrorism missions. Other special operations training missions—sometimes known as “white” programs—are meant only to build up another country’s military. These programs are designed to produce combat-ready special operators to join U.S. SEALs and Delta Force teams on missions.
“This means in practice that these guys were expected to conduct missions with our guys,” the U.S. defense official said. “But of course that never happened.”
The raid in June was enough to effectively kill the training effort. The U.S. ambassador canceled the program in Libya until the security of U.S. personnel and equipment could be guaranteed. Those guarantees have not yet been provided. A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Tripoli did not respond to queries. One U.S. official said the Pentagon was now considering a plan to conduct the special operations training for Libyans in an eastern European country.
For now, Libya looks like it could use as much help as it can get. Since a mix of local and foreign terrorists over-ran a U.S. diplomatic post and CIA base in Benghazi in 2012, jihadist groups have won key gains throughout Libya—and used this territory to help funnel fighters across the region. “Libya in general is a major thoroughfare, the I-95 for foreign fighters into Syria from Africa,” the U.S. defense official said.
In March, Gen. David Rodriguez—Ham’s successor as head of U.S. Africa Command—estimated in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that a couple thousand foreign fighters had transited through northwest Africa to Syria. Rodriguez also said al Qaeda continued to coordinate activities by sharing expertise and resources throughout that region.
And now these militants have a base close to Tripoli, and an array of advanced tactical gear. “The biggest challenge we have is all the arms ammunition and explosives from Libya that continue to move throughout the region to northwest Africa,” he told the committee. When asked if those arms have aided al Qaeda in Africa, Rodriguez answered, “It continues to support them throughout northwest Africa.”
Sanctions on Canada Would Follow Russia Bank Moves: Ambassador
Russia would impose economic sanctions against Canada if it targets Russian banks, affecting Canadian-based companies operating in the world’s largest nation, the Russian ambassador to Canada said.
Firms including Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B) and Kinross Gold Corp. may be affected if Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper imposes sanctions against Russia’s financial institutions because of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, said Georgiy Mamedov, the Russian Federation’s ambassador to Canada.
“If the Canadian government or NATO will do something crazy -- imposing some sanctions against our banks -- certainly we will have to reciprocate,” Mamedov said in an interview following a speech in Toronto today. “If it will affect Canadian transactions in Moscow, we will be sorry. But it will not be our initiative.”
Violence over the weekend is undermining an accord reached between Russia, Ukraine, the U.S., and the European Union, meant to defuse the crisis in the region. The U.S. has threatened more sanctions against Russia’s banking and energy industries unless progress is made on carrying out the accord.
“We will never take any initiative to undercut Canadian business,” Mamedov said, adding “of course, never say never.”
Mamedov said Russia wants the Canadian government to be more involved in the Russia-Ukraine confrontation, rather than just being in a “shouting war.” He suggested involvement similar to the Balkans in the 1990s, when Canada’s military was a part of a United Nations peacekeeping force.
Russian officials expelled Canadian diplomat Margarita Atanasov from the country, Interfax reported today, citing an unidentified person in Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
Syria chemical handover at 86.5 percent
The Hague (AFP) - Syria has handed over 86.5 percent of its chemical weapons, the global chemical watchdog said on Tuesday, amid new claims that Damascus may have launched attacks with an industrial chemical earlier this month.
The latest update comes five days before a self-imposed cut-off of April 27, by which Damascus aimed to have its stockpile removed from Syrian soil, ahead of a June 30 deadline to destroy it.
A further consignment of chemicals was delivered to the main Syrian port of Latakia on Tuesday, raising "the overall portion of chemicals removed from Syria to 86.5 percent of the total", the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement.
"Today's consignment was the 17th to date and the sixth consignment since April 4, making a significant acceleration in the pace of deliveries to Latakia this month," the Hague-based OPCW added.
Upon arrival, the chemicals were "immediately" put onto cargo ships and "removed from the country".
"This latest consignment (is) encouraging," said OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu.
"We hope that the remaining two or three consignments are delivered quickly to permit destruction operations to get under way in time to meet the mid-year deadline for destroying Syria's chemical weapons."
Under the terms of a US-Russia brokered deal reached last year, Syria has until the end of June to destroy its chemical weapons if it wants to ward off the threat of US air strikes.
The agreement was reached after deadly chemical attacks outside Damascus last August which the West blamed on President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
However, new claims have emerged that the regime may have launched attacks with chlorine gas this month, including in an opposition-held part of the country.
Both government and rebels are trading blame for an attack in opposition-held Kafr Zita in the central province of Hama earlier this month.
Activists have also reported other chlorine gas attacks, most recently on Monday in the northwestern province of Idlib.
The latest claims, cited by the United States and France, come as Syria plans to hold a June 3 presidential election, which the United Nations and the Syrian opposition have condemned as flying in the face of efforts to end the country's three-year war.
EU condemns Syria plans for June 3 election
Brussels (AFP) - The European Union joined international condemnation of Syria's plan to hold a presidential election on June 3, saying Tuesday the vote would lack credibility while the country remains at war.
EU diplomatic chief Catherine Ashton "deeply regrets the official declaration by the Syrian authorities that presidential elections will be held in Syria on June 3", her spokesman said in a statement.
Ashton reiterated the EU's stance that "any elections in Syria should only take place within the framework of the Geneva communique of 2012", a so-far-fruitless agreement on a transition to democracy as the basis for negotiations between the Syrian regime and the opposition fighting to overthrow it.
"Elections organised by the regime outside this framework, conducted in the midst of conflict, only in regime-controlled areas and with millions of Syrians displaced from their homes, would ignore the basic principles of democracy, be devoid of credibility, and undermine all efforts to reach a political solution," the statement said.
The United Nations, United States and Britain have all condemned the planned elections.
Ashton also called on the warring sides "to stop all violence and human rights abuses" and return to peace talks in Geneva, which broke off on February 15 with no concrete progress toward ending the devastating three-year conflict.
MANPADS to Syria Rebels: Good or Bad Idea?<!-- Article Byline Information -->Posted:
This is the seemingly impossible policy question that the Obama administration is currently trying to answer. And the choices that are being offered to the president and his national security team are filled with as many negatives as positives. In other words, whichever decision is made, there are going to be consequences that could potentially impact America's national security in the broader Middle Eastern region.
With the Syrian-Lebanese border now largely controlled by pro-Syrian government forces, barrel bombs continuing to rain on civilians from the sky without warning, and Bashar al-Assad himself starting to "campaign" for a third term as Syria's president, the mere fact that the White House is now debating more lethal assistance to Syrian opposition forces is a perfect metaphor for the administration's internal frustration over Syria policy.
The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that a small shipment of sophisticated anti-tank missiles have already been sent to carefully vetted Syrian opposition forces in what can only be described as a pilot program by the United States and Saudi Arabia. That is, if the people who receive the weapons keep them in their hands and limit leakage, a greater quantity of them could be sent.
But President Obama may be ready to go further than that. Time magazine's Michael Crowley writes that the president is at least thinking about sending anti-aircraft weapons to curb the kind of devastating -- but highly effective -- barrel bomb attacks that the Syrian air force has relied on for the past several months to clear opposition controlled neighborhoods.
"A former CIA director has called them "our worst nightmare." A 2005 study found that just one could blow a $15-billion hole in the world economy. And the Obama Administration is thinking about sending them to Syria.
They are shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, capable of knocking helicopters and low-flying planes out of the sky. Syria's rebels and their Arab government backers insist those weapons could decisively reverse the momentum in Syria's three-year civil war, which may recently have shifted in favor of Bashar Assad's regime."
The query for President Obama on this subject is the same as it's always been: whether the benefits of sending MANPADS to Syria's moderate rebel battalions is worth the potential costs -- whether, for instance, the same weapons used to shoot down Bashar al-Assad's fleet of helicopters and jet fighters could make their way into the hands of one of the 8,000 or so jihadist fighters operating in Syria today. This was the concern that prompted the administration to veto a proposed Saudi plan to send a limited number of MANPADS into Syria earlier in the year. Crowley's story suggests that the White House is now revisiting the Saudi plan.
Fortunately for President Obama, he would have some congressional support if he in fact decided to pursue a MANPAD pilot program. Sen. John McCain has been voicing strong support for more aggressive U.S. action to stop the bleeding of civilians for years now. But more importantly, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bill in May 2013 authorizing the president to send defense articles to the moderate Syrian opposition. That bill, passed in a 15-3 vote, prohibited shipments of anti-aircraft weaponry, but also allowed the president to exercise his waver authority if he sees a vital national security interest in doing so.
Syria gets more complicated for the White House by the day.
U.N. chief to Syria: Please don't hold presidential elections<!--endclickprintinclude--><!--startclickprintexclude--> <!--no partner-->April 22, 2014
- UN: Holding elections now will hinder prospects for a political solution
- President Bashar al-Assad's family has been in power since 1971
- The U.S. and allies accuse the Syrian regime of another chemical weapon attack
- More than 100,000 people, including many civilians, have been killed in the civil war
(CNN) -- Elections are usually an effective way to throw out unfavorable presidents or regimes. That is, unless you live in Syria.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Syria against holding presidential elections on June 3, a date the government announced Monday.
Having elections during the current crisis "will damage the political process and hamper the prospects for political solution," said Ban's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
He added that such elections are incompatible with the Geneva Communique -- the international plan adopted two years ago that calls for a transitional government to lead to free and fair elections.
If history repeats itself, the upcoming elections will yield no major change in a country now devastated by civil war.
President Bashar al-Assad's family has had a tight grip on power in Syria for the past 43 years. Al-Assad succeeded his father in 2000 and won a second term in 2007, unopposed.
While countries such as Russia have backed the Syrian regime, many others want to see al-Assad go.
And as each day passes in the civil war, dozens or scores of people are killed, dissidents say. The opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said 107 people, including 20 children, were killed in attacks across the country Monday.
Well over 100,000 people, including many civilians, have been killed in Syria's three-year civil war, which pits government forces against rebels trying to end al-Assad's rule.
But the government maintains it is fighting armed terrorist groups bent on destabilizing the country.
More chemical weapons suspected
As the death toll in Syria soars, concerns about the use of chemical weapons continues to grow.
The Obama administration and U.S. allies believe the Syrian government may have used chlorine gas in a deadly attack this month on its own people, several U.S. officials and other diplomats told CNN.
The alleged assault that killed at least two and affected dozens of others occurred in the village of Kafr Zeita, a rebel-held area.
While there is no firm proof so far, several U.S. officials and Western diplomats say the United States believes the al-Assad regime is responsible because it has such chemicals and the means to deliver them.
"Our assessment is it is, at a minimum, concentrated chlorine dropped from helicopters," a U.S. official said. "That could only be the regime."
If true, such an attack would highlight a deal brokered by Russia last fall and approved by the U.N. Security Council that requires Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to the international community.
The agreement halted threats of U.S. military action after allegations Syria launched a chemical attack last August that killed over 1,400 people. Al-Assad and other officials have vehemently denied their forces were responsible.
The Syrian opposition, which does not have helicopters to carry and deliver such weapons, and the regime have been trading accusations about the April 11 incident in Kafr Zeita for more than a week.
Controversy followed video clips posted on anti-government websites showing a number of civilians, including children, appearing to have difficulty breathing and using oxygen masks.
The chemical symbol for chlorine, Cl2, is visible on the side of a canister that opposition activists say was used in the attack.
Chlorine is not listed as a chemical Syria is expected to give up under the Security Council resolution. But its use as a weapon of war is prohibited under the 1925 Chemical Weapons Convention, of which Syria is a signatory.
Weakened rebels in last stand for Homs, capital of Syrian revolution, as Assad forces advance
BEIRUT - Weakened Syrian rebels are making their last desperate stand in Homs, as forces loyal to President Bashar Assad launch their harshest assault yet to expel them from the central city, once known as the capital of the revolution.
Some among the hundreds of rebels remaining in the city talk of surrender, according to opposition activists there. Others have lashed back against the siege with suicide car bombings in districts under government control. Some fighters are turning on comrades they suspect want to desert, pushing them into battle.
"We expect Homs to fall," said an activist who uses the name Thaer Khalidiya in an online interview with The Associated Press. "In the next few days, it could be under the regime's control."
The fight for Homs underscores Assad's determination to rout rebels ahead of presidential elections now set for June 3, aiming to scatter fighters back further north toward their supply lines on the Turkish borders. Assad's forces are building on gains elsewhere — they have been able to almost clear rebels from a broad swath of territory south of Homs between the capital, Damascus, and the Lebanese border, breaking important rebel supply lines there. Rebels have also capitulated in several towns around Damascus after blockades that caused widespread hunger and suffering.
Homs, Syria's third largest city, is a crucial target. Located in the country's centre, about 80 miles (130 kilometres) north of Damascus, it links the capital with Aleppo in the north — the country's largest city and another key battleground. But rebels still control large areas of the countryside in the north and south and have consolidated around the Turkish and Jordanian borders.
"A total loss of Homs would represent a serious loss to the opposition," said Charles Lister, visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.
"The military has maintained a steadily significant focus on Homs precisely due to this importance," said Lister. "This has been all been part of a very conscious strategy of encircling, besieging and capturing areas of strategic importance," particularly urban areas.
For well over a year, government forces have been besieging rebels in the string of districts they hold in the city centre, around its ancient bazaars.
Just over a week ago, troops loyal to Assad escalated their assaults on rebel districts, barraging them with tank and mortar fire and bombs dropped from military aircraft. Syrian forces have so far advanced into two areas, Wadi al-Sayih and Bab Houd.
Online video footage showed explosions as projectiles smashed into buildings, sending up columns of white smoke. Angry rebels are heard shouting that they have been abandoned and singing that only God could help them. The footage corresponded to other AP reporting on the events.
Activists said it was the fiercest assault since last summer, when Syrian forces retook the rebel-held Homs neighbourhood of Khalidiya.
The death toll from fighting isn't known, because neither side reports losses.
If Assad's forces take Homs, it would be a major boost as he prepares for the upcoming election, fueling the image his government has sought to promote that he is capable of eventually winning the relentless conflict. The war is now in its fourth year, with more than 150,000 people killed and a third of Syria's population driven from their homes. Assad is expected to easily win another seven-year term in the June 3 election, which the opposition and the United States have already declared a farce aimed at giving Assad a veneer of popular support.
Inside Homs, rebels have been deeply weakened by months of blockade around their strongholds and the loss of their supply lines from Lebanon in March, after Syrian forces seized the border town of Zara.
Hundreds of fighters surrendered during a series of U.N. mediated truces that began in November. An estimated 800 to 1,000 fighters left alongside hundreds of civilians who were evacuated from rebel-held parts of the city, according to activists and an official in the Homs province. The rebels remaining in the city are predominantly from the Nusra Front, an al-Qaida affiliate, and other Islamist factions.
One rebel fighter in the city, who uses the nickname Abu Bilal, estimated there are 1,000 rebels who remain in Homs, but the number could not be confirmed. Like Khalidiya and other activists and rebels, he spoke on condition he be identified only by his nickname for fear of retribution.
An activist in Homs, Abu Rami, said rebels wanting to leave had weakened the spirits of others struggling to bear the blockade.
"They tempted them with food and drink, and saying, 'Don't you want to see your families?'" he said over Skype from the city. "(It) really did weaken hundreds of them, and it affected the morale of the rest of the rebels."
Dozens more fighters are now trying to surrender, according to Abu Rami and Khalidiya. The fighters reached out to contact the governor of Homs, Talal Barazi, and Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar, who handles such cases.
"We asked the regime if we could surrender and leave for the countryside," said Khalidiya.
"So far we don't have a clear answer," said Abu Rami, who is opposed to leaving but is helping mediate for the others.
Barazi's office said there was "absolutely no contact" with gunmen. It wasn't immediately possible to contact Haidar.
Some rebels have escalated suicide car bombings in government-controlled areas dominated by Alawites, the minority Shiite offshoot sect that Assad belongs to. At least five such bombings in April killed more than 60 people, one of the bloodiest months for residents in government-controlled areas, a local reporter there estimated. The most recent, on Friday, killed 14.
"We are killing them, those rotting carcasses," said Abu Bilal, the fighter.
The bombings have another aim, sparking fighting that prevents any truce that would allow rebels to desert, Abu Bilal said.
"Some of us are against those deserting. We are fighting so they can die in it," said Abu Bilal.
Homs' saga traces the arc of Syria's uprising.
It quickly embraced the uprising against Assad's rule after it began in southern Daraa province in March 2011. Tens of thousands joined anti-Assad protests in Homs, winning it the nickname of "the revolution's capital."
"We carried the spark of the revolution and made it a flame," Abu Rami said.
After pro-Assad forces violently cracked down on demonstrations, some protesters took up arms, transforming the uprising into an armed rebellion.
Homs has also seen the ever-increasing religious dimension of the conflict, with tit-for-tat sectarian killings in the city where majority Sunni Muslims live alongside Christians and Alawites.
Most recently, on April 7, a masked gunman killed a beloved, elderly Dutch priest, Jesuit Father Francis Van Der Lugt, who lived in a monastery in a rebel-held district, staying alongside civilians who were unable to leave.
Khalidiya, the activists, said Homs is lost, now they have to save the fighters.
"We are more scared that the regime (forces) will kill everybody than we are worried about the fall of Homs."
But Abu Rami said he'd rather die.
"If they come, then we are all going to be martyrs. We can lose an area, and we can regain it. But the most important thing is not to kneel."
April 18, 2014
Is America an Oligarchy?
From the Dept. of Academics Confirming Something You Already Suspected comes a new study concluding that rich people and organizations representing business interests have a powerful grip on U.S. government policy. After examining differences in public opinion across income groups on a wide variety of issues, the political scientists Martin Gilens, of Princeton, and Benjamin Page, of Northwestern, found that the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy.
“Our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts,” Gilens and Page write:
Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.
That’s a big claim. In their conclusion, Gilens and Page go even further, asserting that “In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover … even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”
It is hardly surprising that the new study is generating alarmist headlines, such as “STUDY: US IS AN OLIGARCHY, NOT A DEMOCRACY,” from, of all places, the BBC. Gilens and Page do not use the term “oligarchy” in describing their conclusions, which would imply that a small ruling class dominates the political system to the exclusion of all others. They prefer the phrase “economic élite domination,” which is a bit less pejorative.
The evidence that Gilens and Page present needs careful intepretation. For example, the opinion surveys they rely on suggest that, on many issues, people of different incomes share similar opinions. To quote the paper: “Rather often, average citizens and affluent citizens (our proxy for economic elites) want the same things from government.” This does get reflected in policy outcomes. Proposals that are supported up and down the income spectrum have a better chance of being enacted than policies that do not have such support. To that extent, democracy is working.
The issue is what happens when some income groups, particularly the rich, support or oppose certain things, and other groups in society don’t share their views. To tackle this issue, Gilens and Page constructed a multivariate statistical model, which includes three causal variables: the views of Americans in the ninetieth percentile of the income distribution (the rich), the views of Americans in the fiftieth percentile (the middle class), and the opinions of various interest groups, such as business lobbies and trade unions. In setting up their analysis this way, the two political scientists were able to measure the impact that the groups have independent of each other.
This is what the data shows: when the economic élites support a given policy change, it has about a one-in-two chance of being enacted. (The exact estimated probability is forty-five per cent.) When the élites oppose a given measure, its chances of becoming law are less than one in five. (The exact estimate is eighteen per cent.) The fact that both figures are both below fifty per cent reflects a status-quo bias: in the divided American system of government, getting anything at all passed is tricky.
The study suggests that, on many issues, the rich exercise an effective veto. If they are against something, it is unlikely to happen. This is obviously inconsistent with the median-voter theorem—which holds that policy outcomes reflect the preferences of voters who represent the ideological center—but I don’t think that it is a particularly controversial claim. A recent example is the failure to eliminate the “carried interest” deduction, which allows hedge-fund managers and leveraged-buyout tycoons to pay an artificially low tax rate on much of their income. In 2012, there was widespread outrage at the revelation that Mitt Romney, who made his fortune at the leveraged-buyout firm Bain Capital, paid less than fifteen per cent in federal income taxes. But the deduction hasn’t been eliminated.
One of the study’s other interesting findings is that, beyond a certain level, the opinions of the public at large have little impact on the chances a proposal has of being enacted. As I said, policy proposals that have the support of the majority fare better than proposals which are favored only by a minority. But, in the words of Gilens and Page, “The probability of policy change is nearly the same (around 0.3) whether a tiny minority or a large majority of average citizens favor a proposed policy change.”
The paper is a provocative one, and there’s sure to be a lot of debate among political scientists about whether it wholly supports the authors’ claims. One issue is that their survey data is pretty old: it covers the period from 1982 to 2002. (On the other hand, it hardly seems likely that the influence of the affluent has declined in the past decade.) Another issue is that, in a statistical sense, the explanatory power of some of the equations that Gilens and Page use is weak. For example, the three-variable probability model that I referred to above explains less than ten per cent of the variation in the data. (For you statistical wonks, R-squared = 0.074.)
Even in this sort of study, that’s a pretty low figure. Gilens and Page, to their credit, draw attention to it in their discussion, and suggest various reasons for why it’s not a big issue. They also acknowledge another possible objection to their conclusions:
Average citizens are inattentive to politics and ignorant about public policy; why should we worry if their poorly informed preferences do not influence policy making? Perhaps economic elites and interest group leaders enjoy greater policy expertise than the average citizen does. Perhaps they know better which policies will benefit everyone, and perhaps they seek the common good, rather than selfish ends, when deciding which policies to support… But we tend to doubt it.
Me, too. There can be no doubt that economic élites have a disproportionate influence in Washington, or that their views and interests distort policy in ways that don’t necessarily benefit the majority: the politicians all know this, and we know it, too. The only debate is about how far this process has gone, and whether we should refer to it as oligarchy or as something else.
Obama Should Rethink U.S. Military Expansion
Africa Report, Number 22 (April-May 2010)
By Daniel Volman*
*Daniel Volman (email@example.com) is the Director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC (www.concernedafricascholars.org/african-security-research-project and a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars. He is a specialist on U.S. military policy in Africa and African security issues and has been conducting research and writing on these issues for more than thirty years.
When Barack Obama took office as president of the United States in January 2009, it was widely expected that he would dramatically change, or even reverse, the militarized and unilateral national security policy toward Africa that had been pursued by the Bush administration. But, after a little more than one year in office, it is clear that the Obama administration is essentially following the same policy that has guided U.S. military involvement in Africa for more than a decade. Indeed, it appears that President Obama is determined to expand and intensify U.S. military engagement throughout Africa.
Thus, in its budget request for the State Department for FY 2010, the Obama administration proposed significant increases in funding for U.S. arms sales and military training programs for African countries, as well as for regional programs on the continent, and is expected to propose further increases in its budget request for FY 2011.
The FY 2010 budget proposed to increase Foreign Military Funding spending for Africa more than 300 percent, from just over $8.2 million to more than $25.5 million, with additional increases in funding for North African countries. Major recipients included Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa.
The FY 2010 budget request for the International Military Education and Training program proposed to increase funding for African countries from just under $14 million to more than $16 million, with additional increases for North African countries. Major recipients slated for increases include Algeria, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda.
The FY 2010 State Department budget request also proposed increased funding for several other security assistance programs in Africa, including the African Contingency Operations and Training Assistance program (which is slated to receive $96.8 million), the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement programs in Algeria, Cape Verde, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, Sierre Leone, Sudan, and Uganda, and Anti-Terrorism Assistance programs in Kenya, South Africa, and the Africa Regional program.
The same is true for funding in the Defense Department budget for the operations of the new Africa Command (Africom) which became fully operational in October 2008 and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) forces which have been stationed at the U.S. military base in Djibouti since 2002. The Obama administration requested $278 million to cover the cost of Africom operations and Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership operations at the Africom headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. The administration also requested $60 million to fund CJTF-HOA operations in FY 2010 and $249 million to pay for the operation of the 500-acre base at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, along with $41.8 for major base improvement construction projects. And the administration is now considering the creation of a 1,000-man Marine intervention force based in Europe to provide Africom with the capability to intervene in Africa.
The continuity with Bush administration policy is especially evident in several key regions. In Somalia, for example, the Obama administration has provided some $20 million worth of arms to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and initiated a major effort to provide training to TFG troops at the CJTF-HOA base in Djibouti and in Europe. Furthermore, President Obama has continued the program initiated by the Bush administration to assassinate alleged al-Qaeda leaders in Somalia and, in August 2009, he authorized an attack by U.S. Special Forces units that killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who was accused to being involved in the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by al-Qaeda in August 1998.
In the Sahel, the Obama administration has also sought increased funding for the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Program ($20 million in FY 2010) to and created begun a special security assistance program for Mali to provide that country with some $5 million of all-terrain vehicles and communications equipment. Administration officials have justified this escalating military involvement in the Trans-Saharan region by arguing that the increasing involvement of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in criminal activity (including kidnapping for ransom and drug trafficking) constitutes a growing threat to U.S. interests in this resource-rich area.
In Nigeria, which supplies approximately ten percent of U.S. oil imports, the Obama administration has decided to expand U.S. military support to Nigerian military forces, despite concerns about security in the Niger Delta, Islamic extremism in northern Nigeria, and the country’s fragile democratic institutions. Thus, during her visit to Nigeria in August 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that the administration would consider any request by the Nigerian government for military support to enhance its capacity to repress armed militants in the Niger Delta region. The failure of the Nigerian government to implement major elements of its amnesty program in this vital oil-producing area has recently led to a resumption of violent incidents and attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta.
In Central Africa and the Horn of Africa, the Obama administration is increasing security assistance to Uganda, Rwanda, the Kenya, Ethiopia, and other countries in the region, and has conducted major training exercises both in Uganda and in Djibouti for the new East African Standby Force (EASF). The EASF is a battalion-sized force authorized by the African Union for independent African peacekeeping operations and other missions, but it remains dependent upon external support—especially from the United States—and is not expected to be able to operate on its own for many years to come. And in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Obama administration has just authorized the deployment of U.S. Special Forces troops to train an infantry battalion at a base at Kisangani that was recently rehabilitated by the United States. The Obama administration has chosen to engage in this training program despite the continuing involvement of Congolese troops in gross human rights violations (including the rape and murder of civilians) and in the illegal exploitation of the country’s mineral resources.
This growing U.S. military engagement in Africa reflects the Obama administration’s genuine concerns about the threat posed by Islamic extremism and by instability in key resource-producing regions, and by its desire to help resolve conflicts throughout the continent. However, all these measures increase the militarization of Africa and tie the United States even more closely to unstable, repressive, and undemocratic regimes. Furthermore, despite President Obama’s rhetorical commitment to an approach that combines military and non-military activities, the administration lacks a comprehensive and effective plan to address the underlying issues—the lack of democracy and economic development—that lead to extremism, instability, and conflict in Africa.
This is chiefly because the Obama administration lacks the diplomatic and economic means to address these issues. The State Department and the Agency for International Development have been systematically starved of funding and other resources for years and simply lack the capacity to engage in Africa in the manner that would make such an effort possible. It will take many years and substantial increases in funding to build this capacity. And the Obama administration’s food security program—its one major new initiative for Africa—is highly problematic since it relies on the use of expensive petroleum-based fertilizers, the mechanization of agricultural production, and the use of genetically-modified seeds.
In the meantime, President Obama has decided that he has no choice except to rely primarily on military instruments and to hope that this can protect U.S. interests in Africa, at least in the short term, despite the risk that this military engagement will exacerbate existing threats. The Obama administration would be well advised to curtail its military engagement in Africa and devote its attention to developing the capacity for diplomatic and economic efforts to address Africa’s underlying problems (as Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen argued in a recent speech) and to working with the European Union, China, and other stakeholders on a cooperative engagement with Africa that will not further undermine African security and jeopardize America’s long-term interests.
Obama Moves Ahead With Africom
Pambazuka News, Issue 461 (10 December 2009)
By Daniel Volman*
*Daniel Volman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC, (www.concernedafricascholars.org/african-security-research-project), and a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars. He is a specialist on U.S. military policy in Africa and African security issues and has been conducting research and writing on these issues for more than thirty years.
In his 11 July 2009 speech in Accra, Ghana, U.S. President Barack Obama declared, “America has a responsibility to advance this vision, not just with words, but with support that strengthens African capacity. When there is genocide in Darfur or terrorists in Somalia, these are not simply African problems – they are global security challenges, and they demand a global response. That is why we stand ready to partner through diplomacy, technical assistance, and logistical support, and will stand behind efforts to hold war criminals accountable. Our Africa Command is focused not on establishing a foothold in the continent, but on confronting these common challenges to advance the security of America, Africa and the world.”
And yet all the available evidence demonstrates that he is determined to continue the expansion of U.S. military activity on the continent that was initiated by President William Clinton in the late 1990s and dramatically escalated by President George Bush from 2001 to 2009. While many expected the Obama administration to adopt a security policy toward Africa that would be far less militaristic and unilateral than that pursued by his predecessor, the facts show that he is in fact essentially following the same policy that has guided U.S. military involvement in Africa for more than a decade.
The clearest indication of President Obama’s intentions for Africom and for America’s military involvement in Africa is provided by the budget requests for FY 2010 submitted by the Departments of State and Defense to Congress in May 2009. The State Department budget request—which includes funding for all U.S. arms sales, military training, and other security assistance programs—proposes major increases in funding for U.S. arms sales to a number of African countries through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. The budget proposes to increase FMF funding for sub-Saharan African counties more than 300 percent, from just over $8.2 million to more than $25.5 million, with additional increases in funding for Maghrebi countries. Major recipients slated for increases include Chad ($500,000), the Democratic Republic of Congo ($2.5 million), Djibouti ($2.5 million), Ethiopia ($3 million), Kenya ($1 million), Liberia ($9 million), Morocco ($9 million), Nigeria ($1.4 million), South Africa ($800,000), and the Africa Regional Program ($2.8 million)
The same trend is evident in the Obama adminstration’s request for funding for the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. The budget request for the IMET program proposes to increase funding for sub-Saharan African countries by nearly 17 percent, from just under $14 million to more than $16 million, with additional increases for Maghrebi counries. Major recipients slated for increases include Algeria ($950,000), Chad ($400,000), the Democratic Republic of Congo ($500,000), Djibouti ($350,000), Ethiopia ($775,000), Equatorial Guinea ($40,000), Ghana ($850,000), Liberia ($525,000), Libya ($250,000), Mali ($350,000), Morocco ($1.9 million), Niger ($250,000), Nigeria ($1.1 million), Rwanda ($500,000), Senegal ($1.1 million), South Africa ($900,000), and Uganda ($550,000).
The Obama administration also proposes major new funding for security assistance provided through the Peacekeeping Operations program. The FY 2010 budget proposes to increase funding for the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership—from $15 million in FY 2009 to $20 million in FY 2010—and for the East Africa Regional Strategic Initiative—from $5 million in FY 2009 to $10 million in FY 2010.
It also includes $42 million to continue operations in support of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Accords in southern Sudan, $10 million to help create a professional 2,000 member armed force in Liberia, $21 million to continue operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo to reform the military (including the creation of rapid reaction force for the eastern Congo and the rehabilitation of the military base at Kisangani), and $3.6 million for the Africa Conflict Stabilization and Border Security Program, which will be used to support monitoring teams, advisory assistance, training, infrastructure enhancements, and equipment in the Great Lakes region, the Mano River region, the Horn of Africa, Chad, and the Central African Republic.
And it includes $67 million to support the African Union Mission in Somalia. And it contains a request for $96.8 million for the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). The request for GPOI includes funding for the African Contingency Operations and Training Assistance Program (ACOTA)—which provides training and equipment to a number of African military forces to enhance their peacekeeping capabilities—
Furthermore, the Obama administration’s budget request for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) programs contains $24 million for Sudan to support implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Accords (CPA) in southern Sudan and to assist programs to stabilize Darfur by providing technical assistance and training for southern Sudan’s criminal justice sector and law enforcement institutions as well as contribute to UN civilian police and formed police units in southern Sudan and Darfur. It also includes funds for police reforms in the Democratic Republic of Congo; for training, infrastructure, and equipment for police units in Liberia; to operate the American-run International Law Academy in Gaborone, Botswana; and to create a Regional Security Training Center for West, Central, and North Africa.
And the Obama administration is also asking for funding to be provided through the INCLE programs for the first time to provide security assistance to countries participating in the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Nigeria. Major recipients slated for increases include Algeria ($970,000), Cape Verde ($2 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo ($1.7 million), Ethiopia ($500,000), Gambia ($450,00), Ghana ($500,000), Guinea-Bissau ($3 million), Liberia ($8 million), Morocco ($2 million), Nigeria ($2 million), Sierre Leone ($250,000), Sudan ($24 million), Uganda ($385,000), and the Africa Regional Program ($4.5 million).
The Obama administration also proposes to increase funding for counter-terrorism programs. These include the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program—which provides training to countries throughout the world—the Terrorist Interdiction Program/Personal Identification, Secure Comparison, and Evaluation System Program—which supports identification and watch listing systems to eighteen countries (including Kenya)—the Counterterrorism Financing Program, which helps partner countries throughout the world stop the flow of money to terrorists—and the Counterterrorism Engagement Program, which is intended to strengthen ties with key political leaders throughout the world and “build political will at senior levels in partner nations for shared counterterrorism challenges.” The Obama administration’s budget request requests increased funding for Kenya (from $5 million in FY 2009 to $8 million in FY 2010), for South Africa (a new program for $1 million), and the Africa Regional program (from almost $15 million in FY 2009 to more than $20 million in FY 2010).
The Obama administration proposed FY 2010 budget for the Department of Defense requests $278 million in Operation and Maintenance funds to cover the cost of Africom operations and Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership operations at the Africom headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. The administration is also requesting $263 million to provide additional manpower, airlift, and communications support to Africom. In addition, the administration is requesting $60 million to fund CJTF-HOA operations in FY 2010 and $249 million to pay for the operation of the 500-acre base at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti and for facilities modifications, along with $41.8 for major base improvement construction projects.
The administration has requesting some $400 million for Global Train and Equip (Section 1206) programs, some $200 million for Security and Stabilization Assistance (Section 1207) programs, and some $1 million for the Combatant Commander’s Initiative Fund. This money will be used primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay for emergency training and equipment, the services of personnel from the State Department, and humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi and Afghani armed forces, but it will be available for the use of Africom as well.
The administration’s budget request also contains $1.9 billion to buy three Littoral Combat Ships and another $373 million to buy two Joint High Speed Vessels, ships that will play a crucial role in U.S. Navy operations off the coast of Africa. In addition, the administration has requested $10.5 million to pay for naval deployments in west and central Africa in FY 2010 and another $10 million for naval operations in east Africa.
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Nigeria, during her tour of Africa in August 2009, she met with Ojo Maduekwe, the Foreign Minister and Godwin Abbe, the new Minister of Defense. In her remarks after the meeting, she was asked what the U.S. government intended to do to help the Nigerian government establish stability and security in the Niger Delta. “Well, the defense minister was present at the second larger meeting that the foreign minister convened,” she said, “and he had some very specific suggestions as to how the United States could assist the Nigerian Government in their efforts, which we think are very promising, to try to bring peace and stability to the Niger Delta. We will be following up on those. There is nothing that has been decided. But we have a very good working relationship between our two militaries. So I will be talking with my counterpart, the Secretary of Defense, and we will, through our joint efforts, through our bi-national commission mechanism, determine what Nigeria would want from us for help, because we know this is an internal matter, we know this is up to the Nigerian people and their government to resolve, and then look to see how we would offer that assistance.” Thus, in addition to the security assistance programs in the budget request for FY 2010, the Obama administration is now considering providing even more military support to the Nigerian government for use in the Niger Delta if the current amnesty program collapses, as many analysts expect, and the government resumes military operations against insurgent forces in this vital oil-producing region (which produces 10 percent of America’s total oil imports).
Another indication of the Obama administration’s intentions are provided by its decision to expand U.S. military involvement in Somalia as well as its decision to continue the Bush administration’s policy of unilateral military attacks against alleged al-Qaeda operatives in that country. In June 2009, a senior State Department official (presumed to have been Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson) revealed that the Obama administration had initiated a program of indirect military support for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia (the internationally-recognized government of the country although it only exercises control over a small part of the capital, Mogadishu) and a few other towns in the southern part of the country).
According to the official, the U.S. government was providing funding to the TFG to finance weapons purchases and had also asked the governments of Uganda and Burundi, which have deployed troops to Mogadishu under an African Union mandate to protect the TFG, to transfer weaponry from their own stockpiles to the armed forces of the TFG in exchange for promises that the U.S. government would reimburse them. In addition, the U.S. government made its base in Djibouti available to other governments for them to provide military training to the armed forces of the TFG.
During her visit to Kenya in August 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the U.S. government would “continue to provide equipment and training to the TFG,” stating “very early in the administration, I made the decision, which the President supported, to accelerate and provide aid to the TFG.” She went on to declare that al-Shabaab, the Islamist insurgent group fighting to overthrow the TFG, was “a terrorist group with links to al-Qaeda and other foreign military networks” and that they “see Somalia as a future haven for global terrorism.” “There is no doubt,” Secretary Clinton stated “that al-Shabaab wants to obtain control over Somalia to use it as a base from which to influence and even infiltrate surrounding countries and launch attacks against countries far and near.” Thus, “if al-Shabaab were to obtain a haven in Somalia, which would then attract al-Qaeda and other terrorist actors, it would be a threat to the United States.”
The U.S. government arranged for the delivery of an initial supply of approximately 40 tons of small arms and ammunition worth approximately $10 million to the TFG between May and August of 2009 from the stockpiles of the AU peacekeeping force, along with between $1 million and $2 million in cash to the TFG to finance its own arms purchase, and the delivery of another 40 tons of small arms and ammunition over the following months. A number of other governments—including Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and France—are also reported to have sent military personnel to the U.S. base in Djibouti to provide military training to TFG troops.
According to a report by the Associated Press, American officials “say the U.S. military is not conducting the training and will not put any forces in Somalia.” Other countries were conducting the training, the Associated Press reported, because “the [Obama] administration is making a concerted effort to avoid putting any American footprint in Somalia, which would risk alienating allies and add to charges by Islamic extremists of a Western takeover.” However, is has since become clear that most of the arms and training has been transferred to al-Shabaab, either by Islamic militants who had infiltrated the TFG military forces or as the result of the sale of the weapons and ammunition on the black market.
Then, in August, U.S. Special Forces troops attacked and killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, an alleged al-Qaeda operative who was accused of being involved in the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August, 1998 as well as other al-Qaeda operations in east Africa. The U.S. Special Forces troops carried out the attack from onboard several helicopters that had been launched from a U.S. Navy warship off the Somali coast, using machine guns and automatic assault rifles to strafe a convoy of four-wheel drive vehicles carrying Nabhan and his retinue. Following the initial assault, the helicopters landed so that they troops could seize Nabhan’s body for positive identification. It is likely that the Obama administration will conduct further military operations in Somalia since, in the words of Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, the deputy commander of Africom, “the threat posed by al-Shabaab is something that we pay very, very close attention to.”
And in October 2009, the Obama administration announced a major new security assistance package for Mali that was delivered on 20 October 2009. The package—valued at $4.5 to $5 million (2.3 billion CFA) includes 37 Land Cruiser pickup trucks, communication equipment, replacement parts, clothing and other individual equipment, is intended to enhance Mali’s ability to transport and communicate with internal security (counter-insurgency) units throughout the country and control its borders. The security assistance package is officially known as a “Counter Terrorism Train and Equip” (CTTE) program. Although ostensibly intended to help Mali deal with potential threats from AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), it is more likely to be used against Tuareg insurgent forces.
In addition, between April and June of 2009, 300 U.S. Special Forces personnel were deployed to Mali to train Malian military forces at three local bases and, according to Lt. Col. Louis Sombora, deputy commander of Mali’s 33rd Parachute Regiment (which was the recipient of the new U.S. military aid package), more than 95 percent of his soldiers have received U.S. military training. And in early November 2009, U.S. Air Force Brig. General Michael W. Callan, vice commander of the U.S. Air Force Africa (the Air Force contingent based in Europe and dedicated to Africom), visited Mali along with other U.S. military personnel in order to inspect local military forces (including the 33rd Parachute Regiment) and tour local military facilities. According to Lt. Col. Marshall Mantiply, defense attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Bamako, “we are working with the Mali ministry of defense on a ten-year plan,” to enhance the country’s military capabilities.
The aid package to Mali is just the latest instance of America’s growing military involvement in the Sahel region. In his testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Africa hearing on Counter-terrorism in the Sahel on 17 November 2009, Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson identified Mali, along with Algeria, Mali, and Mauritania—as one of the “key countries” in the region for U.S. counter-terrorism strategy. “We believe that our work with Mali to support more professional units capable of improving the security environment in the country will have future benefits if they are sustained,” he stated.
It is clear, therefore, that President Barack Obama has decided to follow the path marked out for Africom by the Clinton and Bush administrations, based on the use of military force to ensure that America can satisfy its continuing addiction to oil and to deal with the threat posed by al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups, rather than to chart a new path passed on a partnership with the people of Africa and other countries that have a stake on the continent (including China) to promote sustainable economic development, democracy, and human rights in Africa and a global energy order based on the use of clean, safe, and renewable resources.
This is the consequence of two factors. To begin with, President Obama genuinely believes in the strategy of the Global War on Terrorism and thinks that Africa must be a central battlefield in America’s military campaign against al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups. Many analysts believe that terrorism does not constitute a significant threat to America’s national security interests and that it would be far more effective to treat terrorism as a crime and to reduce the threat of terrorism by employing traditional law enforcement techniques. But, as demonstrated by the president’s decision to escalate U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Mali, the Obama administration is determined to use military force instead, despite the fact that—as U.S. military analysts argue—this only helps to strengthen terrorist groups and jeopardizes other U.S. security interests.
And with regard to America’s growing dependence on African oil supplies, President Obama understands the danger of relying upon the importation of a vital resource from unstable countries ruled by repressive, undemocratic regimes, and the necessity of reducing America’s reliance on the use of oil and other non-renewable sources of energy. But, for understandable reasons, he has concluded that there is simply very little that he can do to achieve this goal during the limited time that he will be in office. He knows that it will take at least several decades to make the radical changes that will be necessary to develop alternative sources of energy, particularly to fuel cars and other means of transportation (if this is even technically feasible). And he knows that—in the meantime—public support for his presidency and for his party depends on the continued supply of reliable and relatively inexpensive supplies of gas and other petroleum-based energy to the American people, more than only other single factor. In the event of a substantial disruption in the supply of oil from Nigeria or any other major African supplier, he realizes that he will be under irresistible political pressure to employ the only instrument that he has at his disposal—U.S. military forces—to try to keep Africa’s oil flowing.
Professional military officers also know that the repressive, undemocratic regimes upon which the United States relies to maintain oil production are likely to fail and that, they are almost certain to find themselves sent into combat in Africa—whether they like it or not—if this leads to a major disruption of oil exports, and are already working on plans for direct military intervention in Africa. Thus, in May 2008, the Army Training and Doctrine Command, the Special Operations Command, and the Joint Forces Command conducted a war game scenario for Nigeria during war game exercise that it conducts each year at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
The scenario—set in the hypothetical year 2013—was designed to test the ability of the United States to respond to a crisis in Nigeria in which the Nigerian government fragments and rival factions within the Nigerian military begin fighting for control of the Niger Delta, creating so much violence and chaos that it would be impossible to continue oil production. The participants concluded that there was little the United States could do to bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict and that, in the end, they would probably be ordered to send up to 20,000 American troops into the Niger Delta in what the participants clearly recognized would be a futile attempt to get the oil flowing again. The fact that the participants in the Nigerian war games decided to go public with this information suggests that they believe that this scenario is likely to become a reality in the near future and that their only hope of avoiding this is to tell the public in the hope that this will prevent the order from being issued.
But the professional military officers who would actually have to lead their troops into Africa are not the only people who understand that America’s reliance on the military to solve the energy dilemma and the threat of terrorism is a dangerous mistake. Members of the U.S. Congress are also increasingly skeptical about this strategy and are beginning to give Africom the critical scrutiny it deserves. Moreover, a number of concerned organizations and individuals in the United States and in Africa came together in August 2006 to create the Resist Africom campaign (http://www.resistafricom.org) in order to educate the American people about Africom and to mobilize public and congressional opposition to the new command. The Resist Africom campaign will continue to press the Obama administration to abandon its plan for Africom and pursue a policy toward Africa based on a genuine partnership with the people of Africa, international cooperation, democracy, human rights, and sustainable economic development.
The African “Oil Rush” and American National Security
By Michael Klare and Daniel Volman
Originally published in Third World Quarterly, Volume 27, Issue 4 (May 2006)
The Promise of African oil
Compared with the Middle East, Africa possesses a relatively modest share of the world’s petroleum reserves: about 9.4% of proven world reserves, compared with 61.7% for the Middle East. Nevertheless, the world’s major oil-consuming nations, led by the United States, China and the Western European countries, have exhibited extraordinary interest in the development of African oil reserves, making huge bids for whatever exploration blocks become available and investing large sums in drilling platforms, pipelines, loading facilities and other production infrastructure. Indeed, the pursuit of African oil has taken on the character of a gold rush, with major companies from all over the world competing fiercely with one another for access to promising reserves. This contest represents “a turning point for the energy industry and its investors,” in that “an increasing percentage of the world’s oil supplies are expected to come from the waters off West Africa,” the Wall Street Journal reported in December 2005. By 2010, the Journal predicted, “West Africa will be the world’s number one oil source outside of OPEC.”
This “oil rush” has enormous implications both for African oil producers and for the major oil-importing countries. For the producing countries it promises both new-found wealth and a potential for severe internal discord over the allocation of oil revenues (or “rents”); for the consuming countries it entails growing dependence on imports of a vital substance from a region of chronic instability, with obvious national security overtones. How these factors play themselves out in the years ahead will have a considerable influence on Africa’s continuing evolution. In examining these developments, it is first necessary to consider Africa’s role in the larger, global petroleum equation and explain why African oil, in particular, has aroused so much interest from the major oil-consuming nations.
To begin with it is necessary to consider the state of world oil production and consumption, along with prevailing expectations regarding the future availability of petroleum. Until very recently the world’s oil producers largely succeeded in keeping pace with rising world demand for their product, which accounts for around 40% of the world’s combined energy supply. In 1960 the world produced and consumed some 21 million barrels of oil per day (mbd); in 2004 it produced and consumed 81 mbd—an increase of 285%. This steady expansion in output helped make possible the vast expansion of the world economy over the past half-century and has facilitated the emergence of new industrialized powers in Asia and other parts of the developing world. Any future expansion of the world economy, as well as the continued emergence of industrialized economies in the developing world, will require a similar growth in energy supplies.
It is the stated view of the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and other energy-related organizations that the global supply of oil will continue to expand along with the expected growth in world demand. According to the DoE’s International Energy Outlook for 2005, world oil production capacity will grow from 80.0 mbd in 2002 to a projected 122.2 mbd in 2025; during the same period global consumption will climb from 78.2 to 119.2 mbd. This increase in global output will be made possible, the DoE suggests, by rising yield in many oil-producing areas, including the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, Africa and Latin America.
However, there is a growing body of informed opinion that contends that global oil output will not be able to grow by the amount projected by the DoE, and that, in fact, it will fall far short of the 122 mbd predicted for 2025. Those who hold to this outlook refer to indications that the rate of new oilfield discovery has declined sharply in recent years and that many of the world’s existing fields have gone into decline or are likely to do so in the not-too-distant future. If this assessment proves accurate, the world supply of oil will prove wholly inadequate for anticipated requirements in the decades ahead and the global economy will suffer accordingly.
Up until now the prevailing view among energy experts was that large amounts of oil remain to be discovered and that the world’s producers are capable of achieving the optimistic projections recorded by the DoE in 2005. For example, in its International Energy Outlook for 2002, the DoE asserted that “the long-term production potential for oil resources is healthy.” However, in recent months, there has been something of a swing in opinion, as some prominent figures in the field—including David O’Reilly, the CEO of Chevron—have come to the conclusion that world oil production may not continue on an upward path and that supplies could prove increasingly scarce in the future. “One thing is clear,” O’Reilly stated in an advertisement that Chevron has run in a number of major newspapers, “the era of easy oil is over.” And he warned: “When growing demand meets tighter supplies, the result is more competition for the same resources.”
It is in this context that we must view the world’s growing interest in African oil. Even if African oil output never reaches the Olympian heights long associated with Middle Eastern production, it is expected to continue growing in the years ahead at a time when output from many other areas is in decline; this, more than anything else, makes it significant. According to the DoE, combined oil output by all African producers is projected to rise by 91% between 2002 and 2025, from 8.6 to 16.4 mbd. Even if this projection proves overly optimistic, Africa will still figure among the very few major producing areas (the Caspian Sea basin is another) that are expected to post significant production increases in the years ahead. In an environment where any increment in output will be highly prized, Africa is certain to prove a powerful magnet for the world’s giant oil companies.
That Africa possesses this rare and prized capacity for increasing its net output of oil has been duly noted by both oil company executives and officials of the U.S. government. “Considering the discoveries we’ve already made in [West Africa] and the potential for more,” Exxon Vice-President Harry Longwell remarked in 1999, “we expect that future operations in Africa will account for a significant portion of Exxon’s worldwide production.” A similarly optimistic assessment was offered recently by John R. Brodman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for International Energy Policy. “Several recent studies undertaken by the U.S. Department of Energy and others conclude that sizable but untested resource potential exists in many African and West African countries,” he told the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 15 July 2004. “In the right circumstances, African oil production could rise by 4 to 6 million barrels a day in the next 10 to 15 years. In these scenarios, West Africa’s five key producing countries—Nigeria, Angola, Gabon, the Republic of Congo Brazzaville, and Equatorial Guinea—could see their combined production rise by 2 to 3 million barrels per day in the next 5 to 10 years and by 3 to 5 million barrels per day in the next 10 to 15 years.” Brodman was equally optimistic about the potential for finding oil in other African countries. “West Africa’s frontier oil countries, such as Senegal, Sierra Leone, and São Tomé and Príncipe … could also become hot exploration areas in the next decade”. “Under almost any scenario,” he concluded, “Africa will become an increasingly important supplier to the world’s energy markets in the next decade.” It is this that explains the current oil rush in Africa.
US policy on African oil
Current U.S. government policy on the procurement of African oil is largely based on the National Energy Policy of 17 May 2001, the final report of the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG). A high-level body appointed by President Bush in February 2001, the NEPDG was chaired by Vice President Dick Cheney and its final document is often referred to as the “Cheney report.” In the most general terms the report calls on the federal government to undertake numerous initiatives to substantially increase the nation’s supply of energy, including energy derived from petroleum. As is well known, these initiatives include measures aimed at increasing oil output from domestic U.S. sources, most notably by commencing drilling on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). But because America’s need for energy is expected to expand substantially in the years ahead, the report also calls for increasing U.S. reliance on foreign sources of energy.
In light of Africa’s unique ability to increase its oil output in the years ahead, the Cheney report highlighted Africa’s potential to supply an ever-increasing share of the America’s energy needs. “West Africa is expected to be one of the fastest-growing sources of oil and natural gas for the American market,” the report states. Moreover, “African oil tends to be of high quality and low in sulfur, making it suitable for stringent refined product requirements.” Particular mention is made of the oil potential of Nigeria and Angola. Nigeria’s 2001 production is estimated at 2.1mbd in the report, and that country is said to harbor “ambitious production goals as high as 5 million barrels of oil per day over the coming decades”. Angola is also described as a “major source of growth”, with the potential “to double its exports over the next ten years” On this basis the Cheney report calls for vigorous action by the United States to promote increased oil output in Africa and to channel these additional supplies to markets in the United States. To accomplish this, American oil companies are encouraged to increase their investments in Africa and African countries are encouraged to welcome and facilitate such investment.
The Bush administration also seeks to enhance U.S. access to African oil in order to reduce—to some degree, at least—U.S. dependence on the ever-turbulent Middle East. While it is impossible to escape dependence on the Middle East altogether, the Cheney report notes, it is important to reduce U.S. vulnerability to supply disruptions caused by Middle Eastern instability as much as possible—a strategy known as “diversification”. “Concentration of world oil production in any one region of the world is a potential contributor to market instability”, the report notes. Accordingly, “encouraging greater diversity of oil production … has obvious benefits to all market participants”. In accordance with this outlook, the Cheney report calls for vigorous U.S. efforts to increase imports boost from all potential alternatives to the Middle East, but West Africa is viewed with particular favor in this regard because many of its most promising new fields are located offshore, in the Atlantic Ocean, and thus safely removed from the strife and disorder of the African mainland. “Technological advances will enable the United States to accelerate the diversification of oil supplies”, the report notes, “notably through deep water offshore exploration and production in the Atlantic Basin, particularly West Africa.”
Despite the Bush administration’s obvious desire to increase U.S. reliance on African oil, the Cheney report does not explicitly acknowledge what is stated openly in other government documents and in the testimony of U.S. officials: that increased oil investment in Africa is being hampered by widespread corruption, outmoded (and unattractive) investment laws, internal disorder and conflict, and a systemic lack of governmental transparency. In his 2004 testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, for example, Deputy Assistant Secretary Brodman noted, “there are a considerable number of obstacles to realizing successful development of commercial trade and investment flows [to Africa] directly related to economic, political, and security risks”, including “corruption, the lack of rule of law, political instability, [and] ethnic and religious conflicts”. Overcoming these obstacles and making African energy development projects “economically viable”, he affirmed, “is itself a tremendous challenge.”
In practice, this challenge breaks down into two main tasks: first, to overcome endemic corruption and other structural impediments to foreign investment in Africa; and, second, to improve the security environment in the region so as to ease the anxieties of foreign oil firms over the safety of their facilities and production personnel. Both tasks have received considerable attention from the Bush administration—with progress on the first delegated to the Departments of State, Commerce, and Energy, and progress on the second delegated to the Department of Defense.
The Cheney report only addresses the first of these tasks. Although it does not explicitly acknowledge the problem of corruption and unfavorable laws, the report calls for concerted action to overcome such obstacles. Specifically, the NEPDG offers three recommendations on securing additional oil from Africa:
• The NEPD Group recommends that the President direct the Secretaries of State, Energy, and Commerce to … deepen bilateral and multilateral engagement to promote a more receptive environment for U.S. oil and gas trade, investment, and operations.
• The NEPD Group recommends that the President direct the Secretaries of State, Energy, and Commerce to recast the Joint Economic Partnership with Nigeria to improve the climate for U.S. oil and gas trade, investment, and operations.
• The NEPD Group recommends that the President direct the Secretaries of State, Energy, and Commerce to support more transparent, accountable, and responsible use of oil resources in African producer countries to enhance the stability and security of trade and investment environments.
Since the release of the Cheney report in 2001, the figures named above (or their associates) have made a substantial effort to implement these recommendations. Until his retirement in 2005 Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham was particularly conspicuous in this regard, meeting on several occasions with his African counterparts to discuss measures for improving the investment climate for African energy projects. In June 2002, for example, he attended the third annual meeting of African energy ministers in Casablanca. “We met with government and industry,” he testified several weeks later, “to discuss ways to improve energy trade and facilitate energy sector development to better serve U.S. and African economic growth and development.” The meeting was a great success, he affirmed, because the African producers had reaffirmed their commitment to “stable regulatory structures” and “discussed additional steps to encourage private investment in the energy sector.”
To further enhance America’s access to African oil, the Bush administration has also sought to expedite the removal of obstacles to participation by U.S. oil companies in Libya and Sudan. Until now, these countries have been barred from U.S. energy investment and trade—in Libya’s case, because of its support for terrorism and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), in Sudan’s because of its egregious human rights behavior. But Libya is now open to investment by U.S. firms and Sudan could soon be so as well, if a peace agreement between the northern government in Khartoum and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Front (SPLA) takes hold and conditions improve in Darfur.
The issue of Libyan support for terrorism was largely dissipated in 2003, when Libya accepted responsibility for the 1988 bombing of Pan American Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and agreed to pay compensation to the families of those who died in the crash. In February 2004, following a declaration by Libya that it would abandon its WMD programs and comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), President Bush rescinded a ban on travel to Libya and authorized U.S. oil companies with pre-sanctions holdings in Libya to negotiate on their return to that country. Two months later, on 23 April 2004, the White House eased sanctions on Libya and announced that “U.S. companies will be able to buy or invest in Libyan oil and products.” Finally, on 20 September 2004, President Bush signed Executive Order 12543, lifting most remaining U.S. sanctions against Libya and paving the way for U.S. oil companies to secure new contracts or revive old contracts for tapping Libya’s oil reserves. Since then, a number of U.S. oil firms, including Occidental Petroleum and Chevron, have announced plans to resume production in fields they had abandoned 17 years earlier or to bid for new drilling opportunities in Libya.
Sudan has also been subjected to a U.S. ban on oil investment by American firms. The country has been the site of a brutal civil for over 20 years, pitting the largely Muslim north against the predominantly Christian and animist south; some two million people are thought to have died in this conflict, and both sides have been accused of human rights abuses. In 1997 the Clinton administration imposed economic sanctions on Sudan, prohibiting trade and investment by U.S. oil companies. The Bush administration has since endeavored to promote a peace treaty between the government of the North and the SPLA in the South—both to halt the slaughter and abuse of Sudanese Christians by government troops and pro-government militias and also to allow for renewed investment by U.S. oil companies in Sudan. Former Senator John Danforth, a close friend of President Bush, was appointed as a special envoy to Sudan and instructed to help arrange peace talks between the two sides. On 31 December 2004 the Sudanese government and the SPLA finalized a comprehensive peace agreement and subsequent talks led to the establishment of a national unity government in Khartoum along with a degree of autonomy for the south; the two sides also agreed to share oil revenues on a 50:50 basis. Further progress in the north-south peace process could lead to the lifting of U.S. sanctions in Sudan, but this is not likely to occur while fighting persists in Darfur.
Improving the security environment for African oil production
Historically, Africa—especially sub-Saharan Africa—has been a low-priority area for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). During the Cold War the DoD sought to prevent the USSR from gaining a foothold in the area, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) conducted covert operations aimed at undermining the pro-Soviet regime in Angola. For the most part, however, the U.S. defense establishment devoted relatively meager resources to Africa (in comparison, say, with U.S. military expenditures geared to Europe, Asia and the Middle East). But now, as a result of growing American reliance on African oil and the uncertain security climate in the region, the DoD is paying closer attention to Africa and there is a noticeable increase in U.S. military activities in the region. These may still be modest when compared with similar activities elsewhere, but they are growing—and they are sure to acquire even greater significance in the years ahead as Africa gains in importance as a source of energy for the United States. 
Although the relationship between military power and U.S. reliance on foreign oil is a relatively new phenomenon in the African setting, it has long been a conspicuous factor in the U.S. relationship with the Persian Gulf region. It was President Franklin D Roosevelt who first perceived a U.S. national security interest in Persian Gulf oil, during World War II, and it was Roosevelt who established a security-for-oil relationship with Saudi Arabia. As part of this relationship the United States helped to arm and train Saudi military and internal security forces and to manage their logistical services. The relationship between U.S. security and Middle Eastern oil was further strengthened in 1980, when President Carter designated the free flow of Persian Gulf oil as a “vital interest” of the United States and declared that this country would use “any means necessary, including military force,” to defend that interest. To implement this policy, widely known as the “Carter Doctrine,” the DoD established the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) to oversee U.S. military operations in the Gulf area and built up a substantial military base infrastructure in the region. This infrastructure was subsequently used to support U.S. combat operations during the Gulf War of 1991, the 2001 war in Afghanistan, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
This trajectory of ever-expanding U.S. military involvement is now evident in the Caspian Sea region—another promising source of new oil. As exhibited in the Gulf, this trajectory begins with the assertion of a “national security” interest in the unimpeded flow of oil and is followed by the provision of arms and military assistance, the establishment of military bases and, ultimately, the deployment of U.S. combat forces. This process commenced during the Clinton administration, when the United States established military ties with the forces of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and was accelerated by the Bush administration after 9/11, when the United States established military bases in the region and deployed combat forces there. Ostensibly, the U.S. military aid provided to friendly forces in the area is intended to enhance their ability to participate in anti-terror operations, but government documents indicate that it is also intended to help ensure the unimpeded flow of oil. Thus, in justifying a U.S. role in creating a “rapid-reaction brigade” in Kazakhstan, the Department of State noted that formation of the brigade will “enhance Kazakhstan’s capability to respond to major terrorist threats to oil platforms or borders.” 
A similar trajectory is now visible in Africa. This began, as in the Gulf area and the Caspian basin, with the assertion of a U.S. national security interest in unimpeded access to African oil. Commenting on this development, the former U.S. ambassador to Chad, Donald R. Norland, told the Africa Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee in April 2002, “It’s been reliably reported that, for the first time, the two concepts—’Africa’ and ‘U.S. national security’—have been used in the same sentence in Pentagon documents.” This linkage was also noted by Michael A. Westphal, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, in a Pentagon press briefing on 2 April 2002. “Fifteen percent of the U.S.’s imported oil supply comes from sub-Saharan Africa,” he declared, and “this is also a number which has the potential for increasing significantly in the next decade.” The national security implications of African oil were further acknowledged by Walter Kansteiner, the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, during a visit to Nigeria in July 2002. “African oil is of strategic national interest to us,” he declared, and “it will increase and become more important as we go forward.”
As in the Caspian, these statements have been accompanied by the establishment or expansion of military aid programs in Africa and by the provision of U.S. arms, military equipment and technical assistance. To a considerable extent this aid is intended to enhance the internal security capabilities of friendly African states, so that they can better control (or suppress) the ethnic, religious, and factional divisions that roil many of these countries. Not surprisingly, the largest portions of U.S. aid to Africa are being directed to Angola and Nigeria, the two leading African oil suppliers to the United States. Total U.S. security aid to these two countries in Fiscal Years 2004-06 amounted to some $180 million, a substantial increase over the previous three-year period. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 they also became eligible to receive surplus U.S. arms under the Pentagon’s Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program.
In addition to the U.S. aid programs directed at individual countries, the United States is supporting a number of multilateral or regional initiatives aimed at enhancing African states’ internal security capabilities. Typically these programs are described as being designed to improve anti-terrorism activities in the region or to support international peacekeeping operations, but the skills and techniques being imparted—small unit maneuvers, counter-insurgency, light infantry operations, and so on—are of a sort that could easily be employed in the suppression of ethnic, religious and sectarian strife. And while relatively modest in dollar terms (that is, when compared with the amounts being spent by the DoD in the Middle East and Asia), these efforts represent a significant investment in the African setting, where military expenditures typically are much smaller.
The main channels for U.S. transfers of arms and military equipment to African states are the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Sales Financing (FMF) programs. These entail the sale of U.S. arms and military equipment by the DoD to friendly countries, in some cases facilitated by the provision of U.S. credits via the FMF program. FMS sales to African states rose from $25.6 million in FY 2004 to $61.5 million in FY 2005 and then fell to an estimated $20.1 million in FY 2006. Major recipients included Djibouti ($19.4 million in FY 2005 and $8.5 million in 2006) and Kenya ($23.5 million in FY 2005 and $5 million in FY 2006). Other major recipients in recent years have included Botswana, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda.
Several African countries have also purchased U.S. arms and equipment directly from U.S. defense contractors through the Commercial Sales program, overseen by the U.S. Department of State. Major African beneficiaries of this program in recent years have included Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. In addition, Algeria—a major oil supplier and potentially a supplier of natural gas to the United States—has been permitted to buy very large quantities of sophisticated counter-insurgency equipment from the United States for use in operations against the Salafists. U.S. firms sold $78 million worth of such equipment to Algeria in FY 2004 and were expected to deliver an estimated $80 million worth in FY 2005-06.
Most African countries participate in the International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs, under which the United States provides instruction in combat and technical skills for African officers and enlisted personnel at bases in the United States and abroad. In recent years the DoD has allocated around $10 million per year to provide training to some 1,300 to 1,700 African personnel. Major recipients in FY 2006 include: Algeria ($750 000), Angola ($400 000), Chad ($250 000), Côte d’Ivoire ($50 000), Democratic Republic of Congo ($150 000), Republic of Congo ($100 000), Eritrea ($450 000), Ethiopia ($600 000), Gabon ($200 000), Nigeria ($800 000), and São Tomé ($200 000). The DoD also announced plans to initiate new IMET programs in Equatorial Guinea and Sudan in FY 2006.
Beginning in Fiscal Year 2003 the DoD has allocated funds to the new African Coastal and Border Security Program (ACBSP). This program provides specialized training, equipment and intelligence data to selected African countries for efforts aimed at combating smuggling, piracy and other cross-boundary threats to internal and regional security. The ACBSP has also included efforts to promote intelligence sharing among the nations involved. In FY 2005 $4 million was appropriated for this purpose, and another $4 million was requested for FY 2006. Among the countries participating in this initiative are Angola, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, São Tomé and Uganda. In 2003 the DoD also commenced the delivery of seven surplus U.S. Coast Guard vessels to Nigeria, significantly enhancing the Nigerian Navy’s ability to protect offshore oil installations and oil tankers. In addition, the FY 2006 budget request includes $9.7 million in Economic Support Funds for the Africa Regional Fund, of which 25% will go to support counter-terrorism training and assistance for efforts to combat smuggling and money laundering.
The United States has also provided funds over the years for various peacekeeping operations and training in Africa. Beginning in FY 2006 funds for peacekeeping training in Africa will be channeled primarily through the new Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), replacing African Contingency Operations Training Assistance (ACOTA) and other U.S. aid programs. Out of the $114 million requested for GPOI in FY 2006, African states will receive most of the $14 million requested for training, exercises and equipment; an additional $37 million is to be funneled directly to ACOTA program accounts. The Bush administration has also requested $41 million in FY 2006 for the Africa Regional Peacekeeping account to support operations in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sudan, and to strengthen the peacekeeping forces of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Selected African states have also received U.S. military aid through the Pan-Sahel Initiative (PSI). Through this endeavor the DoD allocated roughly $16 million in FY 2002-03 to deploy teams of U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) to provide counter-terrorism training and equipment to Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. This effort entailed the provision of training and equipment to six light infantry companies in the four countries. As a result of strenuous lobbying by U.S. military officials, PSI was transformed into the new Trans-Saharan Initiative (TSI) in March 2004, and was expanded to include the important energy-producing countries of Algeria and Nigeria, along with Senegal, Tunisia and the original PSI participants. The TSI program obtained initial funding of $16 million in FY 2005 and is slated to receive $100 million annually from FY 2007 to FY 2011, for a total of $500 million.
Expanding U.S. naval operations in Africa
In recognition both of Africa’s growing role as a supplier of oil to the United States and of the fact that all this oil travels by ship to ports and refineries in that country, the U.S. Navy has significantly increased its presence in African waters. Much of this activity is focused in the Gulf of Guinea, the body of water closest to the major West African oil producers and is itself the site of some of Africa’s most promising offshore oil reserves. The U.S. Navy has also conducted joint training operations with the naval forces of African states and engaged them in joint discussion of security problems in the region. A number of recent naval exercises and other events are evidence of the Pentagon’s perception of Africa as an area of growing strategic importance to the United States.
In May 2003 NATO Supreme Commander General James Jones indicated that U.S. carrier battle groups under his command would shorten their visits to the Mediterranean, a traditional area of strategic concern. Instead, he indicated, “they’ll spend half the time going down the west coast of Africa.” The most impressive demonstration of this approach to date came in July 2004, when the U.S. Navy carried out the “Summer Pulse 04” exercise. This exercise was explicitly intended to demonstrate that the United States could conduct simultaneous naval operations in every major ocean, and respond to multiple contingencies at once. The African component of this exercise was conducted off the coast of Morocco, where the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise spearheaded a large battle group that included vessels from nine countries, including Morocco itself. The exercise, which entailed simulated air and sea combat, involved over 20 000 military personnel aboard 30 ships.
Three months later, in October 2004, the U.S. European Command EUCOM) hosted a three-day Gulf of Guinea Maritime Security Conference in Naples, Italy (headquarters of the U.S. Sixth Fleet). Participants included naval leaders from Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, São Tomé and Togo, along with personnel from the USA, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK. The conference reportedly focused on common efforts to combat threats posed by piracy, smuggling and drug trafficking, as well as the fight against terrorism. It ended with a joint statement pledging participants to engage in ongoing dialogue, co-operation and joint activities.
The Gulf of Guinea was again a focus of American strategic concern in January 2005, when the U.S. Navy commenced a two-month “Gulf of Guinea Deployment” with participation by the USS Emory S Land, carrying about 1400 sailors and Marines. The deployment was the direct result of the 2004 Maritime Security Conference held in Naples in October 2004, and involved port calls at Douala, Cameroon; Port Gentil, Gabon; and Sekondi, Ghana. Instructors and sailors from Cameroon, São Tomé, Gabon, Ghana and Benin also participated in the operation. A second Gulf of Guinea deployment was conducted in May-July 2005, with participation by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bear.
More recently, in late September 2005, the U.S. Navy commenced a five-week West African Training Cruise (WATC) exercise with the deployment of the dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall and the high-speed vessel Swift. Host nations for the WATC include Ghana, Senegal, Guinea and Morocco. Scheduled activities included small boat training, live-fire exercises and amphibious raids. At the same time U.S. sailors and marines will participate in Exercise Green Osprey, a British-led amphibious landing exercise on the coast of Senegal.
These operations are particularly significant because they constitute the necessary preparations for what are, in fact, the most likely types of U.S. military actions in Africa: naval operations against smugglers or saboteurs; the protection of offshore oil platforms; and sea-based air strikes or airborne assaults against insurgents who threatened to disrupt onshore oil facilities. While the prolonged employment of U.S. ground troops may be deemed necessary in some circumstances, such as multilateral peacekeeping operations or a major threat to the survival of a favored U.S. ally, such as the government of Nigeria, the DoD would much prefer to avoid such deployments, given the hostility they undoubtedly would produce among those Africans who resent any expression or reminder of Western imperialism. By keeping the bulk of U.S. forces offshore, however, the Pentagon hopes to avoid provoking such sentiments.
The search for bases in Africa
However, to ensure that the United States can swiftly deploy troops and military equipment on the ground, particularly in times of emergency when speed is of the essence, the DoD is now beginning to establish a basing infrastructure in Africa, again following the trajectory first witnessed in the Gulf and Caspian regions. In recognition of Africa’s colonial past and probable popular resistance to anything resembling a permanent military garrison, the DoD does not seek elaborate installations but rather “bare-bones” facilities—usually an airstrip, basic communications links and a warehouse or two—that can be maintained on a day-to-day basis by local troops or private military contractors until needed by U.S. forces for particular operations. Although Pentagon officials tend to emphasize the threat from terrorism when discussing the need for such facilities, they have also expressed a need to protect the flow of oil. In 2003, for example, a senior Pentagon official told Greg Jaffe of the Wall Street Journal, “a key mission for U.S. forces [in Africa] would be to ensure that Nigeria’s oil fields, which in the future could account for as much as 25 percent of all U.S. oil imports, are secure.”
Among the countries that have reportedly been considered as a potential site for the establishment of a U.S. military base in Africa is the island state of São Tomé and Príncipe. São Tomé is located in the Gulf of Guinea near the major West African oil producers, yet is conveniently distant from the ethnic and political strife that has often overtaken countries on the mainland; it is also expected to be a major oil exporter itself, in conjunction with Nigeria (with which is has established a Joint Development Zone in the Gulf of Guinea). Although the DoD has not formally expressed an interest in acquiring a base there, the Deputy Commander of the U.S. EUCOM, which exercises command authority over much of sub-Saharan Africa, visited the islands in July 2001 to examine possible basing locations.
In its efforts to secure other basing options, the United States has negotiated agreements granting it access to airfields and other facilities in several African nations. These facilities are often referred to as “lily pad” facilities, because U.S. forces can hop in and out of them in times of crisis while avoiding the impression of establishing a permanent—and potentially provocative—presence. They include Entebbe Airport in Uganda, where the DoD has built two “K-Span” steel buildings to house troops and equipment; an airfield near Bamako, the capital of Mali; an airfield at Dakar, Senegal; an airfield in Gabon; and airfields and port facilities in Morocco and Tunisia.
The DoD has also sought basing facilities in North Africa, primarily to support anti-terror operations but also to bolster the U.S. military presence in the region. After 9/11, the United States received permission from Djibouti to use Camp Lemonier as the headquarters for the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, a multinational naval force led by the United States that monitors and interdicts possible terrorist travel routes at sea and suspected terrorist activities in adjacent countries, specifically in Somalia. Along with the headquarters element, 800 U.S. SOF troops have set up base at Camp Lemonier. Likewise, under an agreement reportedly signed in July 2003 during Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s visit to Washington, the DoD was granted the right to use the airfield at Tamanrasset, in southern Algeria, for the deployment of U.S. P-3 Orion aerial surveillance aircraft. (In March 2004 P-3 based at Tamanrasset were reportedly used to gather intelligence on the activities of Algerian Salafist guerrillas operating in Chad and to provide such intelligence to Chadian forces engaged in combat against the Salafists.
The perceived challenge from China
For the most part U.S. policy regarding African oil is aimed at improving the investment climate for U.S. oil firms and strengthening the internal security capabilities of friendly governments. The DoD also seeks to establish a modest capacity for fighting any localized, indigenous forces that might threaten the free flow of petroleum exports. In the past few years, however, another perceived threat has arisen: the possibility that China will pre-empt U.S. firms in the development of promising oil fields and compete with the United States for the loyalty of local governments—possibly through an increased level of arms sales and military assistance. Although not all U.S. officials would put China in the “threat” category with respect to African oil, there is concern over the growing Chinese presence in the region among some in Congress and the DoD.
Before addressing this controversy further, it is useful to make a few basic points about China’s role in Africa. First, China is not a newcomer to Africa, having played a significant role there for several decades; second, China’s pursuit of oil assets in Africa is proceeding along lines long trodden by the United States and the major Western European countries. “The United States is not the only country deepening its engagement with Africa,” Michael Ranneberger, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, testified in July 2005. As a result of its rapid economic growth, “China is increasingly involved in the global marketplace, seeking new markets for its goods, and reliable sources of energy. Both are reflected in China’s increased engagement across sub-Saharan Africa.”
An examination of China’s efforts to acquire access to oil assets in Africa would reveal a pattern essentially indistinguishable those of the UK, France and the United States. All the major Western powers have long used whatever means and influence are available to them to secure access to African oil, including economic incentives, diplomacy and the provision of arms and military equipment. For example, during the 1966-69 civil war in Nigeria, the UK provided arms to the federal government in Lagos, while the French government, hoping to gain a foothold for French firms in the oil-rich Delta region (long the exclusive preserve of British and U.S. companies), conspired to smuggle arms to the breakaway Biafran regime. As noted above, moreover, the United States continues to provide arms and military assistance to friendly oil producers in Africa. Hence, the fact that China has aggressively sought oil assets in Africa and accompanied its efforts with deliveries of arms and other aid cannot be viewed as an innovation but as “business as usual.” In saying this, we do not mean to excuse Chinese assistance to regimes cited for persistent human right violations, such as the northern government in Sudan, but seek only to show that China’s behavior in this regard is not markedly different from that of the major Western powers.
To sustain its rapid economic growth, now averaging 9%-10% per year, China will need additional supplies of energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, China’s total energy consumption will rise by 153% between 2002 and 2025, from 43.2 to a projected 109.2 quadrillion BTUs. This will entail increased consumption of all sources of energy, including oil. In the DoE’s projections, China’s net oil consumption will rise by 214% over this period, from 5.2 to 14.2 mbd. And because domestic petroleum production in China is expected to remain relatively flat over this period, at around 3 mbd, it will have to substantially increase its imports of oil in order to satisfy anticipated demand—much as is the case for the United States.
To obtain this additional petroleum, Chinese firms are scouring the world in the hunt for investment opportunities in untapped energy reserves. This search has taken Chinese firms to Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Indonesia, Venezuela—and to Africa. Chinese oil companies have already established a significant presence in Sudan: the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) now owns 40% of the largest oil-producing company in Sudan, the Great Nile Petroleum Operating Company. In January 2006 another state-owned firm, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) announced a $2.3 billion deal to acquire a 45% stake in a major Nigerian offshore oil field that is managed by Total SA of France; Chinese firms are seeking investment opportunities in Angola as well. According to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Rannenberger, China now obtains roughly 30% of its oil imports from Africa and “China hopes to increase this proportion in the years ahead.”
China has also strengthened its broader economic relations with a number of African countries—investing in mining projects and dam construction, for example—and has established military ties with a number of African governments, including those in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan and Zimbabwe. China and has been providing arms and other forms of military aid to the Northern Sudanese government since the late 1990s, when CNPC assumed a major role in the Great Nile Petroleum Operating Company. More recently, in September 2004, Chinese military ties with the Nigerian government were significantly expanded when the Chinese arms producer Poly Technology announced that it would enter into a partnership with government-owned Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON). After years of neglect, the Nigerian government has been seeking to revive DICON, which recently resumed production of small arms, grenades, ammunition and other light weapons for the Nigerian military.
From Rannenberger’s perspective, none of this is particularly unexpected, nor should it necessarily be considered alarming. China’s pursuit of African oil “should not be read as a threat,” he told the Africa Subcommittee in July. “Nations from every region are seeking markets in Africa and African sources of energy. In fact, this can work to advance our goals in Africa to the extent that it serves to increase prosperity and stability.” He went on to express concern over the human rights implications of China’s continuing support for the northern Sudanese government, but ended with a plea for co-operation between the United States and China in maintaining the stability of world oil markets and seeking the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa. “China should have many of the same interests in Africa as the United States, based, among other elements, on our shared desire to diversify sources of supply, our shared reliance on a global oil market … [and] our share[d] interests in conflict resolution and promotion of national and regional stability.” This being the case, the United States should “engage China directly, at all appropriate levels, to seek to develop new concepts of cooperation that can advance common interests.”
This hopeful view is not, however, shared by all U.S. policy makers. “Amidst all of this hoopla over China’s rapidly growing economy, there is a dark side to [that] country’s economic expansion,” Representative Christopher Smith of New Jersey told the House Committed on International Relations (HIRC) in July. “China is playing an increasingly influential role on the continent of Africa, and there is concern that the Chinese intend to aid and abet African dictators, gain a stranglehold on precious African natural resources, and undo much of the progress that has been made on democracy and governance in the last 15 years in African nations.” It is possible, of course, to take exception to Smith’s interpretation of recent developments in Africa and to suggest that Beijing hardly possesses the capacity to do all he ascribes to it; the fact is, however, that many other U.S. policy makers hold a similarly alarmist view of China’s role in Africa, and this assessment will no doubt influence U.S. policy in the years ahead.
The possibility that an alarmist view of China’s role in African oil could affect U.S. policy is raised, for example, in the DoD’s 2005 report on Chinese military capabilities, The Military Power of the People’s Republic of China. In a section on “Resource Demands as a Driver of Strategy,” the report notes that China’s growing reliance on imported energy, especially oil and natural gas, “is playing a role in shaping China’s strategy and policy.” Such concerns, it continues, “factor heavily” in Beijing’s relations with a number of major oil producers, including Angola and Sudan, and have prompted Beijing to seek close ties with these countries. “Beijing’s belief that it requires such special relationships in order to assure its energy access could shape its defense strategy and force planning in the future.” Left unsaid in this statement (the report, it should be noted, is intended as an assessment, not a policy document) is the belief that any such efforts on China’s part could pose a challenge—even a direct threat—to U.S. security interests. But even if the DoD did not make this point explicitly, there are others in Washington, including Representative Smith and other Republicans on the House and Senate foreign relations committees, who are certainly prepared to do so.
It is still early days in the U.S.-China competition over access to African oil, and American policy makers have not—so far as is publicly known—adopted formal policies or taken concrete steps to thwart China’s growing interest in Africa’s oil reserves. The U.S. aid programs and military initiatives described above are aimed principally at combating terrorism and containing local threats to the safe flow of oil. But the very act of building military ties with African governments and providing them with arms and military assistance can be viewed as a form of low-level military competition with China for the loyalty of local elites. China, too, appears to be seeking ties of this sort, through its own modest military aid programs. “Over the past decade, the engagement of China and the United States in Africa has begun to resemble competition for resources and influence that has the potential to result in an ugly dynamic akin to that created by the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War,” Rep Donald M Payne of New Jersey observed in July 2005. Whether all this will lead to something greater—and potentially far more perilous—is something that cannot be foreseen at this point, but it is something that bears close watching, given the obvious dangers this could pose for the states and peoples of Africa.
Although the U.S. and Chinese military aid programs in Africa are still relatively small—at least when compared with similar U.S. programs in the Middle East and the Caspian region—they are growing rapidly. And even relatively small programs of this sort can have a significant impact on Africa, where defense budgets are relatively small by international standards and the introduction of several millions of dollars’ worth of modern arms and equipment can mark a substantial improvement in the combat capabilities of local forces. This, in turn, can negatively affect African societies in a number of ways. First, they help to encourage African regimes to continue to rely on oil-based development rather than pursuing broader economic development strategies that promote local manufacturing and agriculture. As the work of Terry Lynn Karl and a number of other analysts has shown, the extraction of oil by countries in Africa and other parts of the developing world nearly always leads to political repression, corruption and violence.
Second, U.S. (and Chinese) military involvement often aggravates internal political conflict over the allocation of oil revenues, particularly when the regime in power seeks to monopolize such revenues while depriving other groups in the population of an equitable share of oil rents. Typically such regimes depend on the army and police—usually the best paid and best equipped elements of the national government—to maintain their privileged position. This often leads to political unrest, which frequently turns violent since a resort to arms is often seen by marginalized groups as the only means of ousting the prevailing regimes and gaining a larger share of oil profits. In response, the regimes in power rely even more on military force to suppress dissent and so become even more beholden to the United States (or China) for supplies of arms and equipment. The resulting cycles of repression and revolt often threaten to produce disruptions in the flow of oil—exactly what Washington says it wants to prevent.
Third, by developing close military relationships with unstable and unpopular regimes, and becoming ever more deeply involved in African conflicts, the United States is fuelling an upsurge in anti-American sentiment in the region and promoting the growth of Salafists and other Islamic jihadist groups. This only increases the likelihood of future acts of terrorism against U.S. targets, U.S.-backed regimes, oil installations and innocent civilians. All of this, in turn, increases the risk of direct U.S. military intervention in Africa, whether to help protect friendly regimes or to guard vital oil installations. Needless to say, such action would invite the rise of anti-American resistance movements and further acts of terrorism.
Finally, an escalating military competition between the United States and China for power and influence in Africa—in combination with escalating military competition in the Pacific, Central Asia, and the Middle East—will help to tilt the U.S.-Chinese relationship in a more adversarial direction and will make it more likely that their rivalry will spiral into a direct or indirect (surrogate) confrontation. If history is any indication, Africa could well prove to be a future battlefield for proxy conflicts of this sort. For all these reasons, the accelerating “oil rush” in Africa and the growing military involvement of the United States and China deserve to be given thorough, and critical, scrutiny.
1 BP, BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2005, London: BP, 2005, p. 4 (hereinafter cited as BP, SRWE-2005).
2 Jeffrey Ball, “Angola Possesses a Prize as Exxon, Rivals Stalk Oil,” Wall Street Journal, 5 December 2005.
3 The authors first advanced this argument in a paper with this title delivered at the annual meeting of the African Studies Association, Washington, DC, 18 November 2005.
4 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (DoE/EIA), International Energy Outlook 2005, Washington, DC: DoE/EIA, 2005, Tables A4, E1, pp. 93, 157 (hereinafter cited as DoE/EIA, IEO-2005).
5 For articulation of this point of view, see Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Hubbert’s Peak, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001; David Goodstein, Out of Gas, New York: W.W. Norton, 2004; and Paul Roberts, The End of Oil, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. See also Jeffrey Ball, “As Prices Soar, Doomsayers Provoke Debate on Oil’s Future,” Wall Street Journal, 21 September 2004.
6 DoE/EIA, International Energy Outlook 2002, Washington, DC: DoE/EIA, 2002, p. 25.
7 See Russell Gold, “In Deal for Unocal, Chevron Gambles on High Oil Prices”, Wall Street Journal, 10 August 2005.
8 DoE/EIA IEO-2005, Table E1, p. 157.
9 Quoted in Margaret Ross, “Africa’s Elephants of the Deep,” The Lamp, Winter 1998 -99, p. 4. The Lamp was the official magazine of the Exxon Corp before its merger with Mobil.
10 U.S. Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, Export and Trade Production, The Gulf of Guinea and U.S. Strategic Energy Policy, Hearings, 108th Congress, 2nd Session, 15 July 2004, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2004, pp. 11-12 (hereinafter cited as SFRC, Gulf of Guinea).
11 For background on this initiative, see Michael T. Klare, Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004, pp. 56-73.
12 National Energy Policy Development Group, National Energy Policy, Washington, DC: The White House, 17 May 2001, Chapter 8, p. 11 (hereinafter cited as NEPDG, NEP-2001).
14 Ibid, Chapter 8, p. 6.
15 Ibid, Chapter 8, pp. 6-7.
16 SFRC, Gulf of Guinea, p. 10.
17 NEPDG, NEP-2001, Chapter 8, pp. 11-12.
18 Statement of Spencer Abraham before the House Committee on International Relations, 20 June 2002, at www.energy.gov, accessed 7 December 2003.
19 Cited in DoE/EIA, “Libya,” Country Analysis Brief, February 2005.
21 For background on Sudan and oil, see DoE/EIA, “Sudan,” Country Analysis Brief, March 2005, at www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/sudan.html, accessed 14 November 2005.
22 For background on the Pentagon’s regional priorities, see Dana Priest, The Mission, New York: W.W. Norton, 2003.
23 The authors first made this argument in Michael T. Klare & Daniel Volman, “Africa’s Oil and American National Security,” Current History, May 2004, pp. 226-231.
24 For background on U.S. military activities in the Gulf area, see Klare, Blood and Oil, pp. 26-55, 74-112. See also Michael Palmer, Guardians of the Gulf, New York: Free Press, 1992.
25 For background on these efforts, see Michael T. Klare, Resource Wars, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2001, pp. 81-108; and Klare, Blood and Oil, pp. 132-139.
26 U.S. Department of State (DoS), Congressional Budget Justification: Foreign Operations, Fiscal Year 2005, Washington, DC: DoS, 2004, p. 371.
27 Testimony of Donald R. Norland, former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Chad, House International Relations Committee, Subcommittee on Africa, The Chad-Cameroon Pipeline: A New Model for Natural Resources Development, Hearing, 18 April 2002, p. 8.
28 U.S. Department of Defense News Briefing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, Michael A. Westphal, 2 April 2002, at www.defenselink.mil.
29 Quoted in Mike Crawley, “With Mideast Uncertainty, U.S. Turns to Africa for Oil,” Christian Science Monitor, 23 May 2003.
30 DoS, Congressional Budget Justification, Fiscal Year 2006, Washington, DC: DoS, 2005, pp. 191-193, 287-289, 443, 587-590 (hereinafter cited as DOS, CBJ-2006).
31 Ibid, pp. 199- 05, 553.
32 Ibid, p. 587.
33 Ibid, p. 590. See also Steven R. Weisman, “U.S. to Sell Military Gear to Algeria to Help it Fight Militants,” Washington Post, 10 December 2002; and “U.S. Plans to Sell Weapons to Algeria,” Reuters, 10 December 2002.
34 DoS, CBJ-2006, pp. 191-198.
35 Ibid, p. 316.
36 Ibid, pp. 207-217, 317-320.
37 For background on the PSI and TSI, see Donna Miles, “New counterterrorism initiative to focus on Saharan Africa,” American Forces Press Service, 17 May 2005, at www.eucom.mil; Catherine Fellow, “US targets Sahara ‘terrorist haven’,“ BBC News, 8 August 2005; “Pan-Sahel Initiative”, Global Security.org report, n.d., at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/pan-sahel.htm; and “Trans-Sahara counterterrorism initiative”, Global Security.org report, n.d., at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/tscti.htm.
38 Quoted in Charles Cobb, Jr, “Larger U.S. Troop Presence May Be Needed in Africa, says NATO commander”, All Africa News, 2 May 2003, at http://allafrica.com.
39 “Seven Carrier Strike Groups Underway for Exercise ‘Summer Pulse 04’,“ U.S. DoD press release, 3 June 2004; “Allied Countries Join Forces in Maritime Exercise,” U.S. DoD press release, 1 July 2004; Sara Omo, “USS Enterprise Kicks Off Majestic Eagle,” U.S. Navy news service, 13 July 2004; and Omo, “Enterprise Heads Home After Its Final Summer Pulse Exercise,” U.S. Navy news service, 16 July 2004.
40 U.S. European Command Press Release, “Maritime Security Conference Brings Navies Together,” 5 October 2004, at http://www.eucom.mil, accessed 22 March 2005.
41 U.S. European Command News Release, “USS Emory S. Land Begins Gulf of Guinea Deployment,” 28 January 2005; Terry Burnley, “Emory S. Land Completes Gulf of Guinea Deployment,” Navy Newstand, 22 March 2005; U.S. European Command News Release, “USS Emory S. Land Stops in Douala, Cameroon,” 9 February 2005; and U.S. European Command News Release, “USS Emory S. Land Pulls Pier-Side in Port Gentil, Gabon,” 15 February 2005.
42 “Coast Guard Cutter Bear Kicks off 6th Fleet Deployment,” Navy Newstand, 7 June 2005.
43 “Sailors, Marines Participate in West African Training Cruise ’05,” Navy Newstand, 30 September 2005.
44 Quoted in Greg Jaffe, “In Massive Shift, U.S. Is Planning to Cut Size of Military in Germany,” Wall Street Journal, 10 June 2003.
45 See “U.S. Naval Base to Protect Sao Tome oil,” BBC News World Edition, 22 August 2002, at news.bbc.co.uk, accessed 6 March 2003.
46 See Vince Crawley, “Oil may drive troop staging: U.S. looks at Africa, the Caspian as forward-operating locations” Army Times, 22 September 2003; John T. Correll, “European Command Looks South and East,” Air Force, December 2003, pp. 61-64; Jaffe, “In Massive Shift, U.S. is Panning to Cut Size of Military in Germany,” Jaffe, “Pentagon Prepares to Scatter Soldiers in Remote Corners,” Wall Street Journal, 27 May 2003; and Eric Schmitt, “Pentagon Seeking New Access Pacts for African Bases,” New York Times, 5 July 2003.
47 See Emily Wax, “A U.S. Beachhead On Horn of Africa,” Washington Post, 5 December 2002.
48 “U.S. deploys further forces in Africa,” Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, 4 August 2004, at http://jiaa.janes.com, accessed 24 October 2004.
49 Ibid; and “U.S. to bolster counter-terrorism assistance to Africa,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 6 October 2004.
50 U.S. Congress, House, Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, China’s Influence in Africa, Hearings, 109th Congress, 1st session, 28 July 2005, pp. 15-16 (hereinafter cited as HIRC, China’s Influence in Africa).
51 For background on foreign intervention in African states associated with the pursuit of oil concessions, see Augustine Ikein, The Impact of Oil on a Developing Country: The Case of Nigeria, New York: Praeger, 1990; E. Wayne Nafzinger, The Economics of Political Instability: The Nigerian-Biafran War, Boulder, CO: Westview, 1982; G. Aforka Nweke, External Intervention in African Conflicts: France and French-speaking West Africa in the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970, Working Papers in African Studies, Boston, MA: Boston University, African Studies Center, 1980; and Robert Bruce Shepard, Nigeria, Africa, and the United States: from Kennedy to Reagan, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1991.
52 DoE/EIA, IEO-2005, Tables A1, A4, pp. 89, 93.
53 For background on China’s pursuit of foreign energy, see Philip Andrews-Speed, Xuanli Liao & Roland Dannreuther, The Strategic Implication’s of China’s Energy Needs, Adelphi Paper no. 346, Oxford: Oxford University Press and International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2002; and Erika Strecker Downs, China’s Quest for Energy Security, Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 2000.
54 On China’s investments in Sudan, see DoE/EIA, “Sudan,” Country Analysis Brief, March 2005, at www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/sudan.html, accessed 14 November 2005. On CNOOC’s investment in Nigeria, see David Barboza, “Chinese Energy Giant to Buy Stake in Nigerian Oil Field,” New York Times, 10 January 2006.
55 HIRC, China’s Influence in Africa, p 18. For further discussion of China’s interest in African oil, see Rannenberger’s full testimony, ibid, pp. 18-24.
56 On Chinese military ties with Sudan, see Peter S. Goodman, “China Invests Heavily in Sudan’s Oil Industry,” Washington Post, 23 December 2004. On the deal with DICON, see Jane’s Defence Weekly, 29 September 2004.
57 HIRC, China’s Influence in Africa, p. 16.
58 Ibid, pp. 17-18.
59 Ibid, p. 1.
60 U.S. DoD, Office of the Secretary of Defense, The Military Power of the People’s Republic of China, Annual Report to Congress, Washington, DC: DoD, 2005, p. 10.
61 For background on these programs, see Rannenberger’s 2005 testimony in HIRC, China’s Influence in Africa, pp. 22-23.
62 DoD, China’s Influence in Africa, p. 9.
63 See Terry Lynn Karl, The Paradox of Plenty, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997.
AFRICOM and the Recolonisation of Africa
The creation of AFRICOM
AFRICOM, literally known as ”The United States Africa Command”(USAFRICOM) is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands of the United States Armed Forces headquartered at Kelley barracks, Stuttgart in Germany.
AFRICOM was created by George W Bush by Presidential Order in 2007 to cordinate US military activities throughout Africa and is directly responsible for U:S military operations and military relations with 53 african nations – an area of responsibility covering the whole of Africa except Egypt.
In mid-2006, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld formed a planning team to advise on requirements for establishing a new Unified Command for the African continent. In early December, he made his recommendations to President George W. Bush
On 6 February 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced to the Senate Armed Services Committee that President George W. Bush had given authority to create the new African Command and U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Robert Moeller, the director of the AFRICOM transition team, arrived in Stuttgart Germany to begin creating the logistical framework for the command. On 28 September the U.S. Senate confirmed General William E. "Kip" Ward as AFRICOM's first commander and AFRICOM officially became operational as a sub-unified command of EUCOM with a separate headquarters. On 1 October 2008, the command separated from USEUCOM and began operating on its own as a full fledged combatant command.
The Combatant Commander AFRICOM reports to the Secretary of Defence and the Secretary of Defence reports to the President of the United States. In individual African countries, US Ambassodor continue to be the President's personal representatives of AFRICOM.
AFRICOM's military objectives
Deter or defeat al-Qaida and other violent extremist organizations operating in Africa and deny them safe haven.
Strengthen the defense capabilities of key African states and regional partners. Through enduring and tailored engagement, help them build defense institutions and military forces that are capable, sustainable, subordinate to civilian authority, respectful of the rule of law, and committed to the well-being of their fellow citizens. Increase the capacity of key states to contribute to regional and international military activities aimed at preserving peace and combating transnational threats to security.
Ensure U.S. access to and throughout Africa in support of global requirements. This raises the question of why .
Be prepared, as part of a whole of government approach, to help protect Africans from mass atrocities. The most effective way in which AFRICOM would do this is through sustained engagement with African militaries.
When directed, provide military support to humanitarian assistance
AFRICOM's secret objectives
To increase the USA's access to Africa's oil , gas and other mineral resources such as Gold, Diamond ,Coltan under the pretext of waging Global War on Terrorism. But this military mission is without regard for the needs or desires of African people. Enabled by oil companies and private military contractors, AFRICOM serves as the latest frontier in military expansionism, violating the human rights and civil liberties of Africans who have voiced a strong "no" to U.S. military presence e.g Gaddafi and the people of Libya. The discovery of massive oil in Ogaden region of Ethiopia, in Somalia stretching all the way to Yemen has attracted the US attention in the region.
The need to occupy Nigeria in 2013 because of it has the highest quality oil in the world. Shell is the worlds largest oil company and the biggest and most dominant foreign oil company in Nigeria. The Rothschild's is the largest share holder of Shell and basically controls it. The Rothschild make up the majority of the Loby group in the US Congress.
“At an AFRICOM Conference held at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller openly declared the guiding principle of AFRICOM is to protect “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market”, before citing China's increasing presence in the region as challenging to American interests”.
In 2007, US State Department advisor Dr. J. Peter Pham commented on AFRICOM's strategic objectives of “protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance, a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.” (Nile Bowie, COVERT OPS IN NIGERIA: Fertile Ground for US Sponsored Balkanization Global Research, April 11, 2012.)
The “War on Terror” fraud serves to cover up the destabilization of Africa with a view to taking control of its resources. The Balkans were destabilized for the same purpose in the 1990's:
To stop and eventually remove the influence of China in Africa. After the cold war ended, the USA and its Western allies were left in a position of being without rivals in Africa and so had no competition in acquiring Africa's natural resources. This gave them the ability to control Africa basically through economic blackmail. The Western powers were left with a monopoly of Finance: That means any country of Africa had to go to the West for Finance, Trade and Loans. This meant that, the Western powers led by the US could basically control Africa through economic means alone. The rise of China changed the situation permanently in that, now African countries do have an alternative to seeking Finance and Trade with the West as they can get them from China. China since 2000 has been stepping up its involvement on the African continent massively offering much more favourable terms of trade to African countries , infrastructural investment, The Western powers are now trying to claw back what they have lost economically in Africa using the one field in which they do have a competitive edge over China.
This competitive edge is the military means which they are using to claw back what they have lost . Since China established trade ties in Africa from 2002, Africa has seen a rapid increase in economic and infrastructural developments due to direct investment and butter trade. By this I mean roads, dams for hydro-electric power production, schools, hospitals, clean water projects. The best examples are Ethiopia and Ghana. What China has done in Africa for the last eight years is what the USA and its western allies have never done for 40 years. The presence of China is therefore a direct threat to the economic survival of the USA and its western allies because the flow of African oil, gas and other mineral resources have been diverted to China on a more favourable terms that have benefited Africa and its people. During the last four years alone, African countries have borrowed more money from China than from the World Bank, IMF, the USA and its western allies. Chinas influence in Africa has resulted into the loss of multibillion dollar contracts and the biggest loan finance market in the world as Africa used to get the bulk of its funds from the World Bank, IMF, USA and its western allies. AFRICOM was created to stop China's influence in Africa by changing regimes in Africa that have embraced China as number one trading and direct foreign investment partner.
This is the context in which AFRICOM was formed established in 2007
Strategic reasons: The US and Israel wants to use North Africa to control the Mediterranean Sea by re-establishing the military base in Libya, which Gaddafi closed down when he took over power in 1969. They also want to use Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea to keep an eye on the anti-West Muslim countries of Iran and Syria in the Middle East.
Gaddafi's role in preventing AFRICOM
In order to to establish AFRICOM bases in each African country, the USA government actually bribed the leaders of these African Nations by giving them millions of dollars in exchange of accepting AFRICOM.
The reisitence to AFRICOM on the African continent was mainly led and spearheaded by Muammar Gaddafi and Libya. He was the only African President who was suspicious and wary of AFRICOM's role in the recolonisation of Africa. He paid African leaders to refuse to cooperate with AFRICOM by offering investment and infrastructure and offering cash to African countries that refused to host US military base on their soil and who refused to cooperate with AFRICOM. Gaddafi actually paid each African leader twice the amount of money they received from the USA government. Libya under Muammar Gaddafi was really the biggest obstacle to the plan of subordinating African Union Forces to AFRICOM. This led to the refusal of AFRICOM bases in many Africa countries. As long as Gaddafi was alive, Africa would not be recolonized.
With Gaddafi out of the way now, the plan of establishing AFRICOM bases in AFRICA will continue . For instance shortly after the assassination of Gaddafi , President Obama sent about 100 US Special Forces to four different countries of Africa ostensibly to hunt down Joseph Kony , leader of the notorious Lords Resistance Army in Uganda. Ugandan forces , alongside Kenyan and Ethiopian forces, are largely in Somalia fighting a proxy war for the US in Somalia and its Western allies. The US forces were sent to Uganda to train Ugandan forces to fight on their behalf in Somalia. Uganda has about 8000 troops in Somalia.
Gaddafi's refusal of AFRICOM was another major reason that led to his overthrow and execution by NATO and its western allies.With Gaddafi gone, Africa is therefore vulnerable to the forces of recolonisation as he had the vision, influence and fund that had initially blocked the establishment of AFRICOM bases in Africa from 2007 to 2011.
The U.S. secret warfare in Africa is alive
In addition to its military command in Africa (AFRICOM), America has been deploying special forces all over the continent:
“Small teams of special operations forces arrived at American embassies throughout North Africa in the months before militants launched the fiery attack that killed the U.S. ambassador in Libya. The soldiers' mission: Set up a network that could quickly strike a terrorist target or rescue a hostage.” (Kimberly AP, October 2, 2012.) Dozier, White House widens covert ops presence in North Africa.
The U.S. is spreading its clandestine army all over Africa. As reported by Nile Bowie (Global Research, April 2012), the goal is to “balkanize” the African continent:
Under President Obama, in fact, operations in Africa have accelerated far beyond the more limited interventions of the Bush years: last year's war in Libya; a regional drone campaign with missions run out of airports and bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Seychelles; a flotilla of 30 ships in that ocean supporting regional operations; a multi-pronged military and CIA campaign against militants in Somalia, including intelligence operations, training for Somali agents, a secret prison, helicopter attacks, and U.S. commando raids; a massive influx of cash for counterterrorism operations across East Africa; tens of millions of dollars in arms for allied mercenaries and African troops; and a special ops expeditionary force (bolstered by State Department experts) dispatched to help capture or kill Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and his senior commanders. And this is just the beginning of Washington's fast-expanding plans and activities in the region.
The geographic scope of AFRICOM
The territory of the command consists of all of the African continent except for Egypt, which remains under the direct responsibility of USCENTCOM, as it closely relates to the Middle East. USAFRICOM also covers island countries commonly associated with Africa;
São Tomé and Príncipe
Components of AFRICOM
U.S. Army Africa (USARAF)
Headquartered on Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, U.S. Army Africa is America's premier Army team dedicated to achieving positive change in Africa. As the Army Component to Africa Command, U.S. Army Africa, in concert with national and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement with African land forces to promote peace, stability, and security in Africa.
U.S. Naval Forces, Africa (NAVAF)
The U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Command, U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) area of responsibility covers approximately half of the Atlantic Ocean, from the North Pole to Antarctica; as well as the Adriatic, Baltic, Barents, Black, Caspian, Mediterranean and North Seas. NAVEUR-NAVAF covers all of Russia, Europe and nearly the entire continent of Africa. It encompasses 105 countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and includes a landmass extending more than 14 million square miles.
The area of responsibility covers more than 20 million square nautical miles of ocean that surrounds Africa.
U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Africa (MARFORAF)
U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Africa conducts operations, exercises, training, and security cooperation activities throughout the AOR. In 2009, MARFORAF participated in 15 ACOTA missions aimed at improving partners' capabilities to provide logistical support, employ military police, and exercise command and control over deployed forces.
MARFORAF conducted mil-to-mil events in 2009 designed to familiarize our African partners with nearly every facet of military operations and procedures, including use of unmanned aerial vehicles, tactics, and medical skills. MARFORAF, as the lead component, continues to conduct Exercise AFRICAN LION in Morocco—the largest annual Combined Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) exercise on the African continent—as well as Exercise SHARED ACCORD 10, which was the first CJCS exercise conducted in Mozambique.
Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa
Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) conducts operations in the East Africa region to build partner nation capacity in order to promote regional security and stability, prevent conflict, and protect U.S. and coalition interests. CJTF-HOA's efforts, as part of a comprehensive whole-of-government approach, are aimed at increasing African partner nations' capacity to maintain a stable environment, with an effective government that provides a degree of economic and social advancement for its citizens.
Today there are no wars in Africa now which would require US intervention. The will cause the wars to justify there intervention on humanitarian grounds.
Literary, the whole of Africa is now surrounded by the US Army and Navy from North, South, West to East Africa.
Why use AFRICOM to recolonise Africa?
The USA has its western allies have been bogged down in endless and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and do not have the fund to finance and fight more wars in Africa.
Training and using African soldiers under US command to change leaders in Africa who say no to their economic, financial and foreign policies is viewed as more cost effective because the US and its allies will not have to deploy their own soldiers onthe ground inAfrica thereby reducing military costs.
The Western powers prefer wherever possible to get other people from other countries to do the fighting, killing and dying for them. The one main lesson they have learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan is that, wars in which their own cirizens are killed are not popular. Part of the aim of AFRICOM is to intergrate the African Union Forces into a global military structure led by the US. In other words to subordinate African Union forces under the US chain of command.
Phase 1 Evidence of the recolonisation process of African
The hidden agenda in Uganda, Central Africa and the Horn of Africa is the conquest of oil and strategic mineral resources. Going after Joseph Kony and protecting Ugandan children is a cynical smokescreen, a pretext for a “humanitarian intervention” in a region where US sponsored “civil wars” (Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia) have in the course of the last 20 years resulted in more than eight million deaths:
The sending in of Marine Special Forces to train Ugandan troops in the fight not only against Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) but also against Al Shabab in Somalia. Joseph Kony is being used as a pretext for outright military intervention in five African countries.
The stated objective is to transform Ugandan soldiers into “counterterrorism engineers”, namely Special Forces under US supervision, ”who will then deploy to Somalia in support of infantry battalions.
“Through AFRICOM, the United States is seeking a foothold in the incredibly resource rich central African block in a further maneuver to aggregate regional hegemony over China. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the world's largest regions without an effectively functioning government. It contains vast deposits of diamonds, cobalt, copper, uranium, magnesium, and tin while producing over $1 billion in gold each year. It is entirely feasible that the US can considerably increase its presence in the DRC under the pretext of capturing Joseph Kony.”
The war in Ivory Coast in which the democratically elected President Laurent Gbabgo was violently deposed by French military help simply because he wanted to disengage from the french-controlled Francophone states.
The war in Libya that led to the violent overthrow and assasination of Muammar Gaddafi.
Related Video Clips :
1. Why Gaddafi must die ?
2.Why Gbagbo was overthrown ?
3. Resist Africom Video .
4. Gaddafi-gold-for-oil, dollar-doom plans behind Libya missin ? OR Why is NATO really in Libya ?
5. The real reason for attacking Libya .
6. The 4 Reasons that Gaddafi Must die.
7. Gaddafi vs Africom and the Recolonisation of Africa
WILL US ALLOW RUSSIAN OR CHINESE ARMY INSIDE AMERICA?
Some African countries have been threatened with sanctions and 'regime change.' One of them is Libya, where Colonel Maummar Gaddafi was killed under the dark cloud of NATO and United States of America. When Africans raise concerns about 'Africom' they are said to suffer 'misconceptions, misapprehensions, rumours, and fiction.' Now, is the United States of America government prepared to allow Russia or China to establish their own 'American Command' and call it 'Americom' in pursuit of their national interests in America? How would Americans react to this? Would they go to the streets and say, 'Welcome messiah!'
Anyway, the architect of 'Africom' President George W Bush has said that the United States' Africa Command 'will co-ordinate all United States security interests throughout Africa.' If this is not imperialist arrogance and contempt for the sovereignties of African States, then the proponents of 'Africom' must be sent to a mental hospital for treatment.GEN WILLIAM E. WARD 01 OCTOBER 2007 -08 MARCH 2011 - A STRATEGIC CHOICEGEN CARTER F. HAM 08 MARCH 2011 - INCUMBENT
In that position, he has been in command of the initial 2011 military intervention in Libya
Tomgram: Nick Turse, AFRICOM's Gigantic "Small Footprint"
Here’s a question for you: Can a military tiptoe onto a continent? It seems the unlikeliest of images, and yet it’s a reasonable enough description of what the U.S. military has been doing ever since the Pentagon created an Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007. It’s been slipping, sneaking, creeping into Africa, deploying ever more forces in ever more ways doing ever more things at ever more facilities in ever more countries -- and in a fashion so quiet, so covert, that just about no American has any idea this is going on. One day, when an already destabilizing Africa explodes into various forms of violence, the U.S. military will be in the middle of it and Americans will suddenly wonder how in the world this could have happened.
In the Cold War years, while proxy battles took place between U.S.- and Soviet-backed forces in Angola and other African lands, the U.S. military, which by then had garrisoned much of the planet, was noticeably absent from the continent. No longer. And no one who might report on it seems to be paying attention as a downsizing media evidently sees no future in anticipating America’s future wars. In fact, with the exception of Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post, it’s hard to think of any journalist who has dug into the fast-expanding American role in Africa.
Enter TomDispatch’s Nick Turse. When it comes to American military plans for that continent, he has been doing the work of the rest of the American foreign press corps on his own. For the last two years, while his bestselling book on the Vietnam War, Kill Anything That Moves, was being published, he has been carefully tracking and mapping the growing American military presence in Africa, exploring the way those moves may actually be helping to destabilize the continent, and doing his best to make sure that U.S. planning for future wars there doesn’t go unnoticed and unreported.
Today, he puts his work -- and his efforts to mine resistant AFRICOM spokespeople for information -- into a single panorama of everything a fine reporter and outsider can possibly know now about Washington’s ongoing militarization of Africa. It’s a grim tale of the way, via a hush-hush version of mission creep, the Pentagon and AFRICOM are turning Africa into a battlefield of the future. Don’t say you weren’t warned -- at TomDispatch. Tom
The Pivot to Africa
The Startling Size, Scope, and Growth of U.S. Military Operations on the African Continent
By Nick Turse
They’re involved in Algeria and Angola, Benin and Botswana, Burkina Faso and Burundi, Cameroon and the Cape Verde Islands. And that’s just the ABCs of the situation. Skip to the end of the alphabet and the story remains the same: Senegal and the Seychelles, Togo and Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. From north to south, east to west, the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, the heart of the continent to the islands off its coasts, the U.S. military is at work. Base construction, security cooperation engagements, training exercises, advisory deployments, special operations missions, and a growing logistics network, all undeniable evidence of expansion -- except at U.S. Africa Command.
To hear AFRICOM tell it, U.S. military involvement on the continent ranges from the miniscule to the microscopic. The command is adamant that it has only a single “military base” in all of Africa: Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. The head of the command insists that the U.S. military maintains a “small footprint” on the continent. AFRICOM’s chief spokesman has consistently minimized the scope of its operations and the number of facilities it maintains or shares with host nations, asserting that only “a small presence of personnel who conduct short-duration engagements” are operating from “several locations” on the continent at any given time.
With the war in Iraq over and the conflict in Afghanistan winding down, the U.S. military is deploying its forces far beyond declared combat zones. In recent years, for example, Washington has very publicly proclaimed a “pivot to Asia,” a “rebalancing” of its military resources eastward, without actually carrying out wholesale policy changes. Elsewhere, however, from the Middle East to South America, the Pentagon is increasingly engaged in shadowy operations whose details emerge piecemeal and are rarely examined in a comprehensive way. Nowhere is this truer than in Africa. To the media and the American people, officials insist the U.S. military is engaged in small-scale, innocuous operations there. Out of public earshot, officers running America’s secret wars say: “Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today.”
The proof is in the details -- a seemingly ceaseless string of projects, operations, and engagements. Each mission, as AFRICOM insists, may be relatively limited and each footprint might be “small” on its own, but taken as a whole, U.S. military operations are sweeping and expansive. Evidence of an American pivot to Africa is almost everywhere on the continent. Few, however, have paid much notice.
If the proverbial picture is worth a thousand words, then what’s a map worth? Take, for instance, the one created by TomDispatch that documents U.S. military outposts, construction, security cooperation, and deployments in Africa. It looks like a field of mushrooms after a monsoon. U.S. Africa Command recognizes 54 countries on the continent, but refuses to say in which ones (or even in how many) it now conducts operations. An investigation by TomDispatch has found recent U.S. military involvement with no fewer than 49 African nations.
In some, the U.S. maintains bases, even if under other names. In others, it trains local partners and proxies to battle militants ranging from Somalia’s al-Shabab and Nigeria’s Boko Haram to members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Elsewhere, it is building facilities for its allies or infrastructure for locals. Many African nations are home to multiple U.S. military projects. Despite what AFRICOM officials say, a careful reading of internal briefings, contracts, and other official documents, as well as open source information, including the command’s own press releases and news items, reveals that military operations in Africa are already vast and will be expanding for the foreseeable future.
A Base by Any Other Name...
What does the U.S. military footprint in Africa look like? Colonel Tom Davis, AFRICOM’s Director of Public Affairs, is unequivocal: “Other than our base at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, we do not have military bases in Africa, nor do we have plans to establish any.” He admits only that the U.S. has “temporary facilities elsewhere… that support much smaller numbers of personnel, usually for a specific activity.”
AFRICOM’s chief of media engagement Benjamin Benson echoes this, telling me that it’s almost impossible to offer a list of forward operating bases. “Places that [U.S. forces] might be, the range of possible locations can get really big, but can provide a really skewed image of where we are... versus other places where we have ongoing operations. So, in terms of providing a number, I’d be at a loss of how to quantify this.”
A briefing prepared last year by Captain Rick Cook, the chief of AFRICOM’s Engineering Division, tells a different story, making reference to forward operating sites or FOSes (long-term locations), cooperative security locations or CSLs (which troops periodically rotate in and out of), and contingency locations or CLs (which are used only during ongoing operations). A separate briefing prepared last year by Lieutenant Colonel David Knellinger references seven cooperative security locations across Africa whose whereabouts are classified. A third briefing, produced in July of 2012 by U.S. Army Africa, identifies one of the CSL sites as Entebbe, Uganda, a location from which U.S. contractors have flown secret surveillance missions using innocuous-looking, white Pilatus PC-12 turboprop airplanes, according to an investigation by the Washington Post.
The 2012 U.S. Army Africa briefing materials obtained by TomDispatch reference plans to build six new gates to the Entebbe compound, 11 new “containerized housing units,” new guard stations, new perimeter and security fencing, enhanced security lighting and new concrete access ramps, among other improvements. Satellite photos indicate that many, if not all, of these upgrades have, indeed, taken place.
A 2009 image (above left) shows a barebones compound of dirt and grass tucked away on a Ugandan air base with just a few aircraft surrounding it. A satellite photo of the compound from earlier this year (above right) shows a strikingly more built-up camp surrounded by a swarm of helicopters and white airplanes.
Initially, AFRICOM’s Benjamin Benson refused to comment on the construction or the number of aircraft, insisting that the command had no “public information” about it. Confronted with the 2013 satellite photo, Benson reviewed it and offered a reply that neither confirmed nor denied that the site was a U.S. facility, but cautioned me about using “uncorroborated data.” (Benson failed to respond to my request to corroborate the data through a site visit.) “I have no way of knowing where the photo was taken and how it was modified,” he told me. “Assuming the location is Entebbe, as you suggest, I would again argue that the aircraft could belong to anyone… It would be irresponsible of me to speculate on the missions, roles, or ownership of these aircraft.” He went on to suggest, however, that the aircraft might belong to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) which does have a presence at the Entebbe air base. A request for comment from MONUSCO went unanswered before this article went to press.
This buildup may only be the beginning for Entebbe CSL. Recent contracting documents examined by TomDispatch indicate that AFRICOM is considering an additional surge of air assets there -- specifically hiring a private contractor to provide further “dedicated fixed-wing airlift services for movement of Department of Defense (DoD) personnel and cargo in the Central African Region.” This mercenary air force would keep as many as three planes in the air at the same time on any given day, logging a total of about 70 to 100 hours per week. If the military goes ahead with these plans, the aircraft would ferry troops, weapons, and other materiel within Uganda and to the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan.
Another key, if little noticed, U.S. outpost in Africa is located in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. An airbase there serves as the home of a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment, as well as the Trans-Sahara Short Take-Off and Landing Airlift Support initiative. According to military documents, that “initiative” supports “high-risk activities” carried out by elite forces from Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara. Lieutenant Colonel Scott Rawlinson, a spokesman for Special Operations Command Africa, told me that it provides “emergency casualty evacuation support to small team engagements with partner nations throughout the Sahel,” although official documents note that such actions have historically accounted for only 10% of its monthly flight hours.
While Rawlinson demurred from discussing the scope of the program, citing operational security concerns, military documents again indicate that, whatever its goals, it is expanding rapidly. Between March and December 2012, for example, the initiative flew 233 sorties. In the first three months of this year, it carried out 193.
In July, Berry Aviation, a Texas-based longtime Pentagon contractor, was awarded a nearly $50 million contract to provide aircraft and personnel for “Trans-Sahara Short Take-Off and Landing services.” Under the terms of the deal, Berry will “perform casualty evacuation, personnel airlift, cargo airlift, as well as personnel and cargo aerial delivery services throughout the Trans-Sahara of Africa,” according to a statement from the company. Contracting documents indicate that Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia are the “most likely locations for missions.”
Special Ops in Africa
Ouagadougou is just one site for expanding U.S. air operations in Africa. Last year, the 435th Military Construction Flight (MCF) -- a rapid-response mobile construction team -- revitalized an airfield in South Sudan for Special Operations Command Africa, according to the unit’s commander, Air Force lieutenant Alexander Graboski. Before that, the team also “installed a runway lighting system to enable 24-hour operations” at the outpost. Graboski states that the Air Force’s 435th MCF “has been called upon many times by Special Operations Command Africa to send small teams to perform work in austere locations.” This trend looks as if it will continue. According to a briefing prepared earlier this year by Hugh Denny of the Army Corps of Engineers, plans have been drawn up for Special Operations Command Africa “operations support” facilities to be situated in “multiple locations.”
AFRICOM spokesman Benjamin Benson refused to answer questions about SOCAFRICA facilities, and would not comment on the locations of missions by an elite, quick-response force known as Naval Special Warfare Unit 10 (NSWU 10). But according to Captain Robert Smith, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Group Two, NSWU 10 has been engaged “with strategic countries such as Uganda, Somalia, [and] Nigeria.”
Captain J. Dane Thorleifson, NSWU 10’s outgoing commander, recently mentioned deployments in six “austere locations” in Africa and “every other month contingency operations -- Libya, Tunisia, [and] POTUS,” evidently a reference to President Obama’s three-nation trip to Africa in July. Thorleifson, who led the unit from July 2011 to July 2013, also said NSWU 10 had been involved in training “proxy” forces, specifically “building critical host nation security capacity; enabling, advising, and assisting our African CT [counterterror] partner forces so they can swiftly counter and destroy al-Shabab, AQIM [Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb], and Boko Haram.”
Nzara in South Sudan is one of a string of shadowy forward operating posts on the continent where U.S. Special Operations Forces have been stationed in recent years. Other sites include Obo and Djema in the Central Africa Republic and Dungu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Lieutenant Colonel Guillaume Beaurpere, the commander of the 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, “advisory assistance at forward outposts was directly responsible for the establishment of combined operations fusion centers where military commanders, local security officials, and a host of international and non-governmental organizations could share information about regional insurgent activity and coordinate military activities with civil authorities.”
Drone bases are also expanding. In February, the U.S. announced the establishment of a new drone facility in Niger. Later in the spring, AFRICOM spokesman Benjamin Benson confirmed to TomDispatch that U.S. air operations conducted from Base Aerienne 101 at Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey, Niger’s capital, were providing “support for intelligence collection with French forces conducting operations in Mali and with other partners in the region.” More recently, the New York Times noted that what began as the deployment of one Predator drone to Niger had expanded to encompass daily flights by one of two larger, more advanced Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, supported by 120 Air Force personnel. Additionally, the U.S. has flown drones out of the Seychelles Islands and Ethiopia’s Arba Minch Airport.
When it comes to expanding U.S. outposts in Africa, the Navy has also been active. It maintains a forward operating location -- manned mostly by Seabees, Civil Affairs personnel, and force-protection troops -- known as Camp Gilbert in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. Since 2004, U.S. troops have been stationed at a Kenyan naval base known as Camp Simba at Manda Bay. AFRICOM’s Benson portrayed operations there as relatively minor, typified by “short-term training and engagement activities.” The 60 or so “core” troops stationed there, he said, are also primarily Civil Affairs, Seabees, and security personnel who take part in “military-to-military engagements with Kenyan forces and humanitarian initiatives.”
An AFRICOM briefing earlier this year suggested, however, that the base is destined to be more than a backwater post. It called attention to improvements in water and power infrastructure and an extension of the runway at the airfield, as well as greater “surge capacity” for bringing in forces in the future. A second briefing, prepared by the Navy and obtained by TomDispatch, details nine key infrastructure upgrades that are on the drawing board, underway, or completed.
In addition to extending and improving that runway, they include providing more potable water storage, latrines, and lodgings to accommodate a future “surge” of troops, doubling the capacity of washer and dryer units, upgrading dining facilities, improving roadways and boat ramps, providing fuel storage, and installing a new generator to handle additional demands for power. In a March article in the National Journal, James Kitfield, who visited the base, shed additional light on expansion there. “Navy Seabee engineers,” he wrote, “...have been working round-the-clock shifts for months to finish a runway extension before the rainy season arrives. Once completed, it will allow larger aircraft like C-130s to land and supply Americans or African Union troops.”
AFRICOM’s Benson tells TomDispatch that the U.S. military also makes use of six buildings located on Kenyan military bases at the airport and seaport of Mombasa. In addition, he verified that it has used Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport in Senegal for refueling stops as well as the “transportation of teams participating in security cooperation activities” such as training missions. He confirmed a similar deal for the use of Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Ethiopia.
While Benson refused additional comment, official documents indicate that the U.S. has similar agreements for the use of Nsimalen Airport and Douala International Airport in Cameroon, Amílcar Cabral International Airport and Praia International Airport in Cape Verde, N'Djamena International Airport in Chad, Cairo International Airport in Egypt, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport in Kenya, Kotoka International Airport in Ghana, Marrakech-Menara Airport in Morocco, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Nigeria, Seychelles International Airport in the Seychelles, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Botswana, Bamako-Senou International Airport in Mali, and Tunis-Carthage International Airport in Tunisia. All told, according to Sam Cooks, a liaison officer with the Defense Logistics Agency, the U.S. military now has 29 agreements to use international airports in Africa as refueling centers.
In addition, U.S. Africa Command has built a sophisticated logistics system, officially known as the AFRICOM Surface Distribution Network, but colloquially referred to as the “new spice route.” It connects posts in Manda Bay, Garissa, and Mombasa in Kenya, Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda, Dire Dawa in Ethiopia, as well as crucial port facilities used by the Navy’s CTF-53 (“Commander, Task Force, Five Three”) in Djibouti, which are collectively referred to as “the port of Djibouti” by the military. Other key ports on the continent, according to Lieutenant Colonel Wade Lawrence of U.S. Transportation Command, include Ghana’s Tema and Senegal’s Dakar.
The U.S. maintains 10 marine gas and oil bunker locations in eight African nations, according to the Defense Logistics Agency. AFRICOM’s Benjamin Benson refuses to name the countries, but recent military contracting documents list key fuel bunker locations in Douala, Cameroon; Mindelo, Cape Verde; Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire; Port Gentil, Gabon; Sekondi, Ghana; Mombasa, Kenya; Port Luis, Mauritius; Walvis Bay, Namibia; Lagos, Nigeria; Port Victoria, Seychelles; Durban, South Africa; and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
The U.S. also continues to maintain a long-time Naval Medical Research Unit, known as NAMRU-3, in Cairo, Egypt. Another little-noticed medical investigation component, the U.S. Army Research Unit - Kenya, operates from facilities in Kisumu and Kericho.
(In and) Out of Africa
When considering the scope and rapid expansion of U.S. military activities in Africa, it’s important to keep in mind that certain key “African” bases are actually located off the continent. Keeping a semblance of a “light footprint” there, AFRICOM’s headquarters is located at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart-Moehringen, Germany. In June, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that the base in Stuttgart and the U.S. Air Force’s Air Operations Center in Ramstein were both integral to drone operations in Africa.
Key logistics support hubs for AFRICOM are located in Rota, Spain; Aruba in the Lesser Antilles; and Souda Bay, Greece, as well as at Ramstein. The command also maintains a forward operating site on Britain’s Ascension Island, located about 1,000 miles off the coast of Africa in the South Atlantic, but refused requests for further information about its role in operations.
Another important logistics facility is located in Sigonella on the island of Sicily. Italy, it turns out, is an especially crucial component of U.S. operations in Africa. Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa, which provides teams of Marines and sailors for “small-footprint theater security cooperation engagements” across the continent, is based at Naval Air Station Sigonella. It has, according to AFRICOM’s Benjamin Benson, recently deployed personnel to Botswana, Liberia, Djibouti, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Tunisia, and Senegal.
In the future, U.S. Army Africa will be based at Caserma Del Din in northern Italy, adjacent to the recently completed home of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. A 2012 U.S. Army Africa briefing indicates that construction projects at the Caserma Del Din base will continue through 2018. The reported price-tag for the entire complex: $310 million.
A Big Base Gets Bigger
While that sum is sizeable, it’s surpassed by spending on the lone official U.S. base on the African continent, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. That former French Foreign Legion post has been on a decade-long growth spurt.
In 2002, the U.S. dispatched personnel to Africa as part of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). The next year, CJTF-HOA took up residence at Camp Lemonnier, where it resides to this day. In 2005, the U.S. struck a five-year land-use agreement with the Djiboutian government and exercised the first of two five-year renewal options in late 2010. In 2006, the U.S. signed a separate agreement to expand the camp’s boundaries to 500 acres.
According to AFRICOM’s Benson, between 2009 and 2012, $390 million was spent on construction at Camp Lemonnier. In recent years, the outpost was transformed by the addition of an electric power plant, enhanced water storage and treatment facilities, a dining hall, more facilities for Special Operations Command, and the expansion of aircraft taxiways and parking aprons.
A briefing prepared earlier this year by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command lists a plethora of projects currently underway or poised to begin, including an aircraft maintenance hangar, a telecommunications facility, a fire station, additional security fencing, an ammunition supply facility, interior paved roads, a general purpose warehouse, maintenance shelters for aircraft, an aircraft logistics apron, taxiway enhancements, expeditionary lodging, a combat aircraft loading apron, and a taxiway extension on the east side of the airfield.
Navy documents detail the price tag of this year’s proposed projects, including $7.5 million to be spent on containerized living units and workspaces, $22 million for cold storage and the expansion of dining facilities, $27 million for a fitness center, $43 million for a joint headquarters facility, and a whopping $220 million for a Special Operations Compound, also referred to as “Task Force Compound.”
According to a 2012 briefing by Lieutenant Colonel David Knellinger, the Special Operations Compound will eventually include at least 18 new facilities, including a two-story joint operations center, a two-story tactical operations center, two five-story barracks, a large motor pool facility, a supply warehouse, and an aircraft hangar with an adjacent air operations center.
A document produced earlier this year by Lieutenant Troy Gilbert, an infrastructure planner with AFRICOM’s engineer division, lists almost $400 million in “emergency” military construction at Camp Lemonnier, including work on the special operations compound and more than $150 million for a new combat aircraft loading area. Navy documents, for their part, estimate that construction at Camp Lemonnier will continue at $70 million to $100 million annually, with future projects to include a $20 million wastewater treatment plant, a $40 million medical and dental center, and more than $150 million in troop housing.
Rules of Engagement
In addition, the U.S. military has been supporting construction all over Africa for its allies. A report by Hugh Denny of the Army Corps of Engineers issued earlier this year references 79 such projects in 33 countries between 2011 and 2013, including Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, The Gambia, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia. The reported price-tag: $48 million.
Senegal has, for example, received a $1.2 million “peacekeeping operations training center” under the auspices of the U.S. Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program. ACOTA has also supported training center projects in Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.
The U.S. is planning to finance the construction of barracks and other facilities for Ghana’s armed forces. AFRICOM’s Benson also confirmed to TomDispatch that the Army Corps of Engineers has plans to “equip and refurbish five military border security posts in Djibouti along the Somalia/Somaliland border.” In Kenya, U.S. Special Operations Forces have “played a crucial role in infrastructure investments for the Kenyan Special Operations Regiment and especially in the establishment of the Kenyan Ranger school,” according to Lieutenant Colonel Guillaume Beaurpere of the 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group.
AFRICOM’s “humanitarian assistance” program is also expansive. A 2013 Navy briefing lists $7.1 million in humanitarian construction projects -- like schools, orphanages, and medical facilities -- in 19 countries from Comoros and Guinea-Bissau to Rwanda. Hugh Denny’s report also lists nine Army Corps of Engineers “security assistance” efforts, valued at more than $12 million, carried out during 2012 and 2013, as well as 15 additional “security cooperation” projects worth more than $22 million in countries across Africa.
A Deluge of Deployments
In addition to creating or maintaining bases and engaging in military construction across the continent, the U.S. is involved in near constant training and advisory missions. According to AFRICOM’s Colonel Tom Davis, the command is slated to carry out 14 major bilateral and multilateral exercises by the end of this year. These include Saharan Express 2013, which brought together forces from Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Liberia, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, among other nations, for maritime security training; Obangame Express 2013, a counter-piracy exercise involving the armed forces of many nations, including Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Togo; and Africa Endeavor 2013, in which the militaries of Djibouti, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Zambia, and 34 other African nations took part.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As Davis told TomDispatch, “We also conduct some type of military training or military-to-military engagement or activity with nearly every country on the African continent.” A cursory look at just some of U.S. missions this spring drives home the true extent of the growing U.S. engagement in Africa.
In January, for instance, the U.S. Air Force began transporting French troops to Mali to counter Islamist forces there. At a facility in Nairobi, Kenya, AFRICOM provided military intelligence training to junior officers from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Sudan. In January and February, Special Operations Forces personnel conducted a joint exercise code-named Silent Warrior with Cameroonian soldiers. February saw South African troops travel all the way to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to take part in Cobra Gold 2013, a multinational training exercise cosponsored by the U.S. military.
In March, Navy personnel worked with members of Cape Verde’s armed forces, while Kentucky National Guard troops spent a week advising soldiers from the Comoros Islands. That same month, members of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa deployed to the Singo Peace Support Training Center in Uganda to work with Ugandan soldiers prior to their assignment to the African Union Mission in Somalia. Over the course of the spring, members of the task force would also mentor local troops in Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Burkina Faso, the Seychelles, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Liberia.
In April, members of the task force also began training Senegalese commandos at Bel-Air military base in Dakar, while Navy personnel deployed to Mozambique to school civilians in demining techniques. Meanwhile, Marines traveled to Morocco to conduct a training exercise code-named African Lion 13 with that country’s military. In May, Army troops were sent to Lomé, Togo, to work with members of the Togolese Defense Force, as well as to Senga Bay, Malawi, to instruct soldiers there.
That same month, Navy personnel conducted a joint exercise in the Mediterranean Sea with their Egyptian counterparts. In June, personnel from the Kentucky National Guard deployed to Djibouti to advise members of that country’s military on border security methods, while Seabees teamed up with the Tanzanian People’s Defense Force to build maritime security infrastructure. That same month, the Air Force airlifted Liberian troops to Bamako, Mali, to conduct a six-month peacekeeping operation.
Limited or Limitless?
Counting countries in which it has bases or outposts or has done construction, and those with which it has conducted military exercises, advisory assignments, security cooperation, or training missions, the U.S. military, according to TomDispatch’s analysis, is involved with more than 90% of Africa’s 54 nations. While AFRICOM commander David Rodriguez maintains that the U.S. has only a “small footprint” on the continent, following those small footprints across the continent can be a breathtaking task.
It’s not hard to imagine why the U.S. military wants to maintain that “small footprint” fiction. On occasion, military commanders couldn’t have been clearer on the subject. “A direct and overt presence of U.S. forces on the African continent can cause consternation… with our own partners who take great pride in their post-colonial abilities to independently secure themselves,” wrote Lieutenant Colonel Guillaume Beaurpere earlier this year in the military trade publication Special Warfare. Special Operations Forces, he added, “must train to operate discreetly within these constraints and the cultural norms of the host nation.”
On a visit to the Pentagon earlier this summer, AFRICOM’s Rodriguez echoed the same point in candid comments to Voice of America: “The history of the African nations, the colonialism, all those things are what point to the reasons why we should… just use a small footprint."
And yet, however useful that imagery may be to the Pentagon, the U.S. military no longer has a small footprint in Africa. Even the repeated claims that U.S. troops conduct only short-term. intermittent missions there has been officially contradicted. This July, at a change of command ceremony for Naval Special Warfare Unit 10, a spokesman noted the creation and implementation of “a five-year engagement strategy that encompassed the transition from episodic training events to regionally-focused and persistent engagements in five Special Operations Command Africa priority countries.”
In a question-and-answer piece in Special Warfare earlier this year, Colonel John Deedrick, the commander of the 10th Special Forces Group, sounded off about his unit’s area of responsibility. “We are widely employed throughout the continent,” he said. “These are not episodic activities. We are there 365-days-a-year to share the burden, assist in shaping the environment, and exploit opportunities.”
Exploitation and “persistent engagement” are exactly what critics of U.S. military involvement in Africa have long feared, while blowback and the unforeseen consequences of U.S. military action on the continent have already contributed to catastrophic destabilization.
Despite some candid admissions by officers involved in shadowy operations, however, AFRICOM continues to insist that troop deployments are highly circumscribed. The command will not, however, allow independent observers to make their own assessments. Benson said Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa does not “have a media visit program to regularly host journalists there.”
My own requests to report on U.S. operations on the continent were, in fact, rejected in short order. “We will not make an exception in this case,” Benson wrote in a recent email and followed up by emphasizing that U.S. forces are deployed in Africa only “on a limited and temporary basis.” TomDispatch’s own analysis -- and a mere glance at the map of recent missions -- indicates that there are, in fact, very few limits on where the U.S. military operates in Africa.
While Washington talks openly about rebalancing its military assets to Asia, a pivot to Africa is quietly and unmistakably underway. With the ever-present possibility of blowback from shadowy operations on the continent, the odds are that the results of that pivot will become increasingly evident, whether or not Americans recognize them as such. Behind closed doors, the military says: “Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today.” It remains to be seen just when they’ll say the same to the American people.
Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch.com and a fellow at the Nation Institute. An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Nation, on the BBC, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author most recently of the New York Times bestseller Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. You can catch his conversation with Bill Moyers about that book by clicking here. His website is NickTurse.com.
Key to the Map of the U.S. Military’s Pivot to Africa, 2012-2013
Green markers: U.S. military training, advising, or tactical deployments during 2013
Yellow markers: U.S. military training, advising, or tactical deployments during 2012
Purple marker: U.S. "security cooperation"
Red markers: Army National Guard partnerships
Blue markers: U.S. bases, forward operating sites (FOSes), contingency security locations (CSLs), contingency locations (CLs), airports with fueling agreements, and various shared facilities
Green push pins: U.S. military training/advising of indigenous troops carried out in a third country during 2013
Yellow push pins: U.S. military training/advising of indigenous troops carried out in a third country during 2012
Copyright 2013 Nick Turse
America’s Conquest of Africa: The Penetration of AFRICOM on the Continent
TomDispatch tracks where the Pentagon is moving in Africa
A recent study conducted by Nick Turse of TomDispatch.com on the increasing role of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) illustrates why this issue should become a major focus of the peace, anti-war and anti-imperialist movements in the West. With the withdrawal of Pentagon ground forces from Iraq and the scaling-down of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, there has been very little attention paid to developments involving interventions by the imperialist states in the oppressed nations.
Although there have been significant demonstrations around the U.S. against the war threats aimed at Syria, these latest machinations by the White House and the French government of Francois Hollande should not be the sole focus of the anti-war movement. The degree to which the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) has engaged in acts of subversion and military intrigue in Africa must at some point force the movement to break out of its myopic preoccupation with events that grab the headlines within the corporate media outlets.
If these trends in Africa are presented in an organized and cohesive fashion, there could be an upsurge in interests related to events on the continent. A panel discussion put together by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) at the Left Forum in New York City in early June, attracted a standing-room-only audience.
Issues related to the Obama administration and its allies’ interventions in Africa should have been the subject of a plenary session at the Left Forum. The panel entitled “The War on Africa” and its success illustrates that there is growing interests in these aspects of imperialism and its strategic outlook for areas outside the so-called Middle East.
Even though President Obama is of African descent, his policies toward the continent have continued and even intensified Western efforts to dominate the continent which has been subjected to nearly six centuries of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. With the People’s Republic of China playing a greater role in Africa through trade relations and strategic partnerships, the ruling class within the U.S. is scrambling to edge out Beijing by increasing its military and intelligence presence.
The bombing of Libya by the Pentagon and NATO for seven straight months in 2011, demonstrated clearly the extent to which imperialism is willing to go in order to overthrow and remake states. Since the fall of the Gaddafi government and the Jamahiriya system, Libya has been plunged into economic distress and political chaos.
Drone stations are being constructed throughout the Horn of Africa and in Niger while the U.S. subsidizes the maintenance of a 17,500-person military force in Somalia. Somalia is now the focus of oil exploration and exploitation along with other states along the coast of East Africa.
Nick Turse begins his review of the Pentagon’s increasing intervention in Africa saying “They’re involved in Algeria and Angola, Benin and Botswana, Burkina Faso and Burundi, Cameroon and the Cape Verde Islands. And that’s just the ABCs of the situation.”
He goes on to stress that all you need to do is “Skip to the end of the alphabet and the story remains the same: Senegal and the Seychelles, Togo and Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. From north to south, east to west, the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, the heart of the continent to the islands off its coasts, the U.S. military is at work.”
Turse goes on to track the activities of the Pentagon through its joint military exercises with various African states, the construction of military bases within these states, the so-called training exercises carried out by the U.S. defense department involving African militaries, the construction and expansion of the Camp Lemonier base in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti and the utilization of drone technology to both monitor events as well as engage in offensive strikes against targeted individuals and organizations.
Another important aspect of the escalating Pentagon presence in Africa is the existence of AFRICOM-related bases of operation outside the continent. Located mainly in European countries and islands under their control, the presence of these facilities should also be of concern to Left and anti-war forces on that continent which was the forerunner of intervention prior to the birth of its offspring in North America.
Turse notes that “When considering the scope and rapid expansion of U.S. military activities in Africa, it’s important to keep in mind that certain key ‘African’ bases are actually located off the continent. Keeping a semblance of a ‘light footprint’ there, AFRICOM’s headquarters is located at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart-Moehringen, Germany.”
He goes on saying “In June, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that the base in Stuttgart and the U.S. Air Force’s Air Operations Center in Ramstein were both integral to drone operations in Africa. Key logistics support hubs for AFRICOM are located in Rota, Spain; Aruba in the Lesser Antilles; and Souda Bay, Greece, as well as at Ramstein. The command also maintains a forward operating site on Britain’s Ascension Island, located about 1,000 miles off the coast of Africa in the South Atlantic, but refused requests for further information about its role in operations.”
The Need for a Response by the Anti-Imperialist Forces
These findings should provide the basis for a more concentrated effort related to the growing Pentagon as well as CIA presence in Africa. The organization of a clear anti-imperialist response to these developments would serve to encourage and motivate revolutionary organizations and movements in Africa that could lead to alliances between progressive forces in the West and those on the continent.
There should be the establishment of study groups to review the history and current events related to imperialist militarism. Task forces need to be set up where military training facilities and corporations directly involved in these events in Africa could be targeted for protests and boycotts.
Positions papers, pamphlets, books and web pages should be developed to provide concrete information about these trends. These resources can serve as the basis for reaching greater numbers of people both in the imperialist states and those in Africa and other regions of the world.
To read this report entitled “Tomgram: Nick Turse, AFRICOM’s Gigantic ‘Small Footprint’” just log on to: http://TomDispatch.com
The imperial agenda of the US's 'Africa Command' marches onWith mission accomplished in Libya, Africom now has few obstacles to its military ambitions on the continent
"The less they see of us, the less they will dislike us." So remarked Frederick Roberts, British general during the Anglo-Afghan war of 1878-80, ushering in a policy of co-opting Afghan leaders to control their people on the empire's behalf.
"Indirect rule", as it was called, was long considered the linchpin of British imperial success, and huge swaths of that empire were conquered, not by British soldiers, but by soldiers recruited elsewhere in the empire. It was always hoped that the dirty work of imperial control could be conducted without spilling too much white man's blood.
It is a lesson that has been re-learned in recent years. The ever-rising western body counts in Iraq and Afghanistan have reminded politicians that colonial wars in which their own soldiers are killed do not win them popularity at home. The hope in both cases is that US and British soldiers can be safely extricated, leaving a proxy force of allies to kill opponents of the new regime on our behalf.
And so too in Africa.
To reassert its waning influence on the continent in the face of growing Chinese investment, the US established Africom – the "Africa Command" of the US military – in October 2008. Africom co-ordinates all US military activity in Africa and, according to its mission statement, "contributes to increasing security and stability in Africa – allowing African states and regional organizations to promote democracy, to expand development, to provide for their common defense, and to better serve their people".
However, in more unguarded moments, officials have been more straightforward: Vice Admiral Robert Moeller declared in a conference in 2008 that Africom was about preserving "the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market", and two years later, in a piece in Foreign policy magazine, wrote: "Let there be no mistake. Africom's job is to protect American lives and promote American interests." Through this body, western powers are resorting to the use of military power to win back the leverage once attained through financial monopoly.
The small number of US personnel actually working for Africom – approximately 2,000 – belies both the ambition of the project and the threat it poses to genuine African independence. The idea, once again, is that it will not be US or European forces fighting and dying for western interests in the coming colonial wars against Africa, but Africans. The US soldiers employed by Africom are not there to fight, but to direct; the great hope is that the African Union's forces can be subordinated to a chain of command headed by Africom.
Libya was a test case. The first war actually commanded by Africom, it proved remarkably successful – a significant regional power was destroyed without the loss of a single US or European soldier. But the significance of this war for Africom went much deeper than that for, in taking out Muammar Gaddafi, Africom had actually eliminated the project's fiercest adversary.
Gaddafi ended his political life as a dedicated pan-Africanist and, whatever one thought of the man, it is clear that his vision for African was very different from that of the subordinate supplier of cheap labour and raw materials that Africom was created to maintain. He was not only the driving force behind the creation of the African Union in 2002, but had also served as its elected head, and made Libya its biggest financial donor. To the dismay of some of his African colleagues, he used his time as leader to push for a "United States of Africa", with a single currency, single army and single passport. More concretely, Gaddafi's Libya had an estimated $150bn worth of investment in Africa – often in social infrastructure and development projects, and this largesse bought him many friends, particularly in the smaller nations. As long as Gaddafi retained this level of influence in Africa, Africom was going to founder.
Since his removal, however, the organisation has been rolling full steam ahead. It is no coincidence that within months of the fall of Tripoli – and in the same month as Gaddafi's execution – President Obama announced the deployment of 100 US special forces to four different African countries, including Uganda. Ostensibly to aid the "hunt for Joseph Kony", they are instead training Africans to fight the US's proxy war in Somalia – where 2,000 more Ugandan soldiers had been sent the previous month.
Fourteen major joint military exercises between Africom and African states are also due to take place this year; and a recent press release from the Africa Partnership Station – Africom's naval training programme – explained that 2013's operations will be moving "away from a training-intensive program" and into the field of "real-world operations".
This is a far cry from the Africa of 2007, which refused to allow Africom a base on African soil, forcing it to establish its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Gaddafi's Libya had served not only as a bulwark against US military designs on the continent, but also as a crucial bridge between black Africa south of the Sahara and Arab Africa in the north. The racism of the new Nato-installed Libyan regime, currently supporting what amounts to a nationwide pogrom against the country's black population, serves to tear down this bridge and push back the prospects for African unity still further.
With Africom on the march and its strongest opponent gone, the African Union now faces the biggest choice in its history: is it to become a force for regional integration and independence, or merely a conduit for continued western military aggression against the continent?
Don’t be surprised if you have never heard of AFRICOM. And if you have heard of AFRICOM don’t be surprised if you have little to no idea of its mission, objectives and actions. AFRICOM has managed to be alarmingly secretive about its operations and only allows the public a controlled glimpse at the true scale of its colonial activities.
What, where and most importantly – why?
AFRICOM is ‘The United States of Africa Command’, which in essence, is responsible for the US militarisation of Africa. AFRICOM began in 2007 under the Bush administration and was planned and supported by Donald Rumsfeld – both famously known for their humanitarian efforts… In its own words: ‘AFRICOM is a new U.S. military headquarters devoted solely to Africa. AFRICOM is the result of an internal reorganization of the U.S. military command structure, creating one administrative headquarters that is responsible to the Secretary of Defense for U.S. military relations with 53 African countries’
Its approved and rather misleading mission statement reads as follows: “US Africa Command, in concert with other US government agencies and international partners conducts sustained security engagements through military-to-military programs, military sponsored activities, and other military operations as directed to promote a stable and secure African environment in support of US foreign policy.”
The Command has located its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, because, funnily enough, The South African Development Community has refused to host AFRICOM’s base in any of their member countries. In a public denouncement, SADC said that it will not tolerate the presence of an American military structure on its soil. This vehement opposition infers that AFRICOMs mission statement may focus upon just one of its points, the part where it says ’in support of US foreign policy’.
Whilst the implementation of AFRICOM was carried out under the Bush administration, it has only been expanded upon under the Obama regime. The US military presence has not only grown, it has become more active and this intervention has been justified in humanitarian terms.
In terms of size and budget, AFRICOM dwarfs the efforts of American aid to the continent, with sources saying 7:1 military personnel to Department of Defense USAID officials. Additionally in 2010, $763 million was allotted to AFRICOM compared to just $226 million to the State Department African Bureau Operational Budget.
The US Military's Pivot to Africa, 2012-13/TomDispatch/Google
Continued exploitation of African resources
Africa has become an increasingly important source of oil for America, supplying more oil to the US now than the Middle East supplies. Whilst it previously stood at around 15-20% of total imports, the US has openly voiced its objective to increase this to 25% in the upcoming years. Furthermore, as far back as 2001, Africa’s oil was declared by Bush as a ‘national strategic interest of the USA’, which has since manifested itself into military involvement with no fewer than 49 African nations. A document created in 2002 entitled ‘African Oil: A Priority for US National Security and African Development’ expresses this imperialist agenda in black and white.
And in case there was any further doubt about that, it has actually been confirmed by the first deputy of AFRICOM, as Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, in a conference in 2008, genuinely said that that US military command was wholly about ‘the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market’. Similarly, the US department of Energy has projected that African oil production would rise by 91% from 2002 to 2025 and it is already known that Libya and Nigeria combined, house around 75 billion barrels of oil, whilst it is also known to be among the highest quality of oil in the world.
With this in mind, it is worth revisiting the ‘hunt’ for Joseph Kony. In 2011, Obama deployed roughly 100 special operation troops to Central Africa in order to target the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and their leader Kony. However, this rebel group has engaged in atrocities for over two decades, with no word or concern from the US government. Furthermore, there has been no reported LRA activity in Uganda since 2006 and it is widely acknowledge that Joseph Kony fled the country over 6 years ago. It is worth noting that Obama’s concern with the welfare of Ugandan citizens coincided with the country’s discovery of oil reserves. Additional forces were sent to South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, which are similarly known for their abundant supply of natural resources.
Equally, evidence has shown that these special operation troops, as well as ‘hunting Kony’ are training and arming African soldiers to fight the US’s proxy war in Somalia.
The rise of China
AFRICOM arguably also serves the purpose of challenging Chinese influence in Africa. China is a fast becoming a global superpower, with its economy growing around 9% per annum over the past few decades, threatening the continued dominance of the US. Before China’s rise, the West controlled African economies, perpetuating a state of dependency; however Africa now has the option of seeking trade, investment and aid through China. The country’s involvement in Africa has been continually increasing since around 2002 and it is suggested that these trade and aid relations are more appealing to African states than Western intervention, as Chinese aid is nonconditional and China have invested in important infrastructural projects.
This means that China is in a better position to benefit from African oil, gas and other mineral resources.
As a result, where African countries previously borrowed from the World Bank and the IMF, this is now being replaced with assistance from China and it has since been suggested that Washington’s foreign policy must be now understood within the context of checking China’s growing power. Additionally it is argued that the US has aimed to destabilize African countries as a way of ‘restraining’ Chinese influence, such in the case of South Sudan and Zimbabwe.
Retaining US global hegemony
AFRICOM represents a broader shift in US foreign policy – which is moving towards increased militarisation. More money than ever is currently being spent to keep a flow of resources to the country and retain the US as the biggest global superpower. This is, quite bluntly, being achieved at the expense of innocent civilian lives and human rights.
As it has been previously pointed out, AFRICOMs objectives perhaps have very little to do with helping the people of Africa and ensuing political stability. Evidence points to resource fuelled military interventions in conjunction with a deep concern over China’s growing power and influence.
To conclude, with involvement in Africa coming predominately from the US and China, what we are witnessing is the new scramble for Africa; bringing back the unfortunate question – will Africa ever benefit from its natural resources?
For more information please see:
Published on Jul 9, 2012
Has Africa made it to the list of US geopolitical priorities? Why is the US military expanding its secret intelligence operations in Africa? What is behind the growth of AFRICOM? Why is the US training and equipping militaries in a number of African states? Is it a price to pay for peace and order in Africa? Or is it just about the protection and promotion of American interests at the expense of Africa's search for stability? CrossTalking with Ivan Eland, Peter Pham and James Mittleman on July 9.
The Militarization of the African Continent: AFRICOM Expands Operations in Cooperation With Europe
Reports indicate that the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is expanding its operations on the continent. A series of naval maneuvers and exercises are currently taking place in West Africa.
AFRICOM was formed in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration and has been expanded and enhanced under Barack Obama. A series of navy operations known as Obangame Express is now in its fourth year with additional European, African and at least one South American state, Brazil, involved.
The Pentagon’s Obangame Express 2014 brings in more navies while military build-up continues.
These operations are allegedly designed to strengthen the security capacity of Africa states in West Africa. Over the last several years there have been numerous reports of “piracy” off the coast of West Africa where greater oil exports into the U.S. are endangered.
The official German news agency reported that
“More than 30 warships from 20 countries are engaged in major maneuvers along the West African cost. In addition to 11 West African nations, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands as well as Denmark, Turkey, Brazil and the United States have dispatched ships, making the training maneuver one of Africa’s largest.” (DW, April 18)
This same article continued noting that
“Of the non-African participants, Germany has dispatched the most vessels: one frigate, one corvette and two supply vessels with more than 400 military personnel. The ships and their crews are located outside the Nigerian port of Lagos where they are waiting for the sea phase of the military maneuver to begin on Saturday.” (DW, April 18)
Nigeria is the largest exporter of oil in Africa to the U.S. Intelligence and military ties between Washington and Abuja are growing while France and other European states work in partnership with the Pentagon.
Nigerian Oil and Internal Security
The government of Nigeria is currently battling an underground military and religious group known as Boko Haram which has carried out a series of brutal attacks in the north of the country, Africa’s most populous. Over the last five years since the military and police assault on Boko Haram which killed its then leader, the group has claimed responsibility and been blamed for the kidnapping of civilians, the bombing of government buildings and churches.
During the week of April 14, two high-profile attacks were carried out. A bus stop in the political capital of Abuju was bombed resulted in the deaths of over 70 people. Later in the week, 129 school girls were kidnapped from a boarding school near the Sambisa forest in the north.
Although some of the girls have reportedly escaped from their abductors, many remain unaccounted for at the time of this writing. The parents of the children along with opposition politicians are blaming the government for not developing an adequate security apparatus to protect Nigerians from such attacks.
Immediately the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan blamed the Boko Haram group for the bomb attack and kidnappings. The U.S. has pledged to Nigeria to assist the country in its counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram.
Even the German news agency reports that
“It’s also no coincidence that the Gulf of Guinea is the site of the exercise and that Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest oil exporters, is heavily involved. The country, which is hosting this year’s maneuver, is providing many military facilities and warships.” (DW, April 18)
In Djibouti, which houses the only known permanent base of AFRICOM on the continent, is undergoing a $750 million upgrade. There are currently thousands of Pentagon troops stationed at Camp Lemonnier in the Horn of Africa nation.
In neighboring Somalia, and off its coast, U.S. imperialism supported by the EU is maintaining a 22,000 African Union Mission (AMISOM) inland. Offshore both U.S. and EU Naval Forces (EUFOR) have flotillas of warships in the Gulf of Aden under the guise of fighting “piracy” like in the Gulf of Guinea on the other side of the continent.
On the ground in Somalia, the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement has been battling the U.S. and EU-backed forces of AMISOM for five years. Despite claims that the group has been forced out of the capital of Mogadishu, it is still capable of carrying out large-scale operations in the city where on April 21 a cabinet official was assassinated in a bomb attack.
According to Army Times,
“Those threats in the region have helped transform the U.S. military’s Camp Lemonnier along the East African coast of Djibouti from a ramshackle outpost of a few hundred troops a decade ago into a hub of operations for AFRICOM and home to several thousand U.S. troops. And beyond the gates of Lemonnier, ‘throughout the rest of the area, there are small pockets of temporarily placed organizations and people,’ says AFRICOM Commander Army General David Rodriguez said.” (April 16)
The presence of these Pentagon troops along with Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives, are also utilized to pressurize other states in the region even those who are considered allies of Washington. In South Sudan, which has undergone internal conflict within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) party since Dec. 15, the White House has attempted to dictate the terms of the negotiations aimed at reaching a lasting peace accord.
Uganda, another close ally of Washington, has several thousand troops deployed in South Sudan assisting the Juba government in repressing and eradicating the oppositional threat from the followers of the ousted Vice President Reik Machar. President Salva Kiir has criticized both the U.S. and the United Nations mission in South Sudan for what he describes as the unwarranted interference in the country’s internal affairs.
It was successive U.S. administrations which supported and encouraged the partitioning of the Republic of Sudan, formerly Africa’s largest geographic nation-state. Nonetheless, the current fighting has brought the world’s newest nation to the brink of collapse.
If South Sudan completely implodes politically, it will constitute a monumental failure in U.S. foreign policy towards Africa. Consequently, the Obama administration is quite concerned about developments inside the country.
South Sudan is also major producer of oil and U.S. petroleum interests want to further exploit the natural resources of the country.
With these interests involved from the Gulf of Guinea to the Gulf of Aden there will of course be additional deployments and aggressive military operations conducted on the continent.
Opposing the Shifting Focus of Washington’s Militarist Policies in Africa
There are no consistent efforts on the part of the anti-war and anti-imperialist movements based in the West in regard to the Pentagon and CIA build-up in Africa. Although AFRICOM is running rampant throughout the region in the aftermath of the support for surrogate forces in the Horn of Africa and the destabilization, blanket bombing and overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011, most people are not aware of the long term dangers posed by the imperialist military forces.
This presence in Africa has not brought about stability but only more internal strife and economic exploitation. In Mali, where the U.S. had extensive influence in the military apparatus of the state, those same elements which were trained by the Pentagon staged a coup against the government in March 2012, resulting in the worsening of a northern insurgency and the intervention of French troops that remain in the country.
The United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) has issued statements in opposition to the war against Libya and the French intervention in Mali. At the Left Forum held at Pace University in June 2013, UNAC hosted a panel on “The War Against Africa” which enjoyed a standing-room-only audience.
Again this year at the Left Forum being held at John Jay University, UNAC will host another panel on the U.S. war drive looking at various geo-political regions including Ukraine as well as Africa. These efforts must be multiplied throughout the U.S. in order to provide the necessary political education needed to mount a struggle against imperialism in Africa and throughout the world.
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