AFRICOM and the USA’s Hidden Battle for Africa

First Published: Mar. 30, 2010 – Accra Mail

What is the current meaning of “War against Terror” for Africa? The true intention of America’s recent military interventions in the African continent (both covert and open) is nothing other than the expansion and consolidation of Western capital.

It all started in 2001 when George W. Bush declared his “War on Terror” in the continent, but has developed in a manner that has gone beyond human imagination in the body counts on the streets of Somalia, in the jungles of Uganda and Congo, and deserts of Sudan.

The chief of the US African Command, General E. Ward, explained this in language more clear than that of any US politician when he stated that an Africa in which “African populations are able to provide for themselves, contribute to global economic development and are allowed access to markets in free, fair, and competitive ways, is good for America and the world…”

AFRICOM (or USAFRICOM) is a Unified Combatant Command of the US Department of Defense, responsible for US military operations and military relations with 53 African nations (excepting Egypt). Africa Command was established October 1, 2007, and formally activated October 1, 2008 at a public ceremony at the Pentagon attended by representatives of African nations. It has become clear that the idea was not primarily to fight against Islamic terror, which was said to be growing in influence, but to protect and help expand American military and economic (mainly energy) interests.

Pending legislation, “The Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act 2009,” being pushed by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) would empower AFRICOM not only to give technical support but to physically go to war with the armed groups that both Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo Forces have not been able to dislodge. Royce said:

“Africa’s emerging potential as a major oil producer and supplier to the United States, has been of interest to the Sub-Committee on Africa that I’ve chaired for some time. The sub-committee held a hearing to look at this topic in 2000. It’s clearly in our national interest to diversify our energy supply, especially given the turbulent political climate in key parts of the world today. The expansion of energy production in Africa matches to that interest…”

This is big money talk rather than humanitarian outrage. On January 2, 2002, a Washington DC symposium held to discuss African oil came up with a document entitled “African Oil: A Priority for US National Security and African Development,” which paved the way for the rest to happen. It was attended by Washington’s Africa heavyweights: people like Barry Schutz, a Bush administration specialist on Africa; Lt-Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, a high-ranking Air Force officer, and Water Kansteiner, Bush’s under-secretary of State for African Affairs. The Christian Science Monitor reported on the Symposium thus:

“In January last year [2002], the IASPS [Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies] hosted a symposium in Houston, Texas, which was attended by government and oil industry representatives. An influential working group called the African Oil Policy Initiative Group (AOPIG) co-chaired by IASPS researchers Barry Schutz and Paul Michael Wihbey, which has been largely responsible for driving American governmental policy concerning west African oil, emerged from the symposium… The document urges Congress and the Bush administration to encourage greater extraction of oil across Africa, and to declare the Gulf of Guinea ‘a area of vital interest’ to the US.”

We have now definitely entered the aggressive birth of AFRICOM. The man who is put in charge of this task, Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward, is not new to the battlefields of Africa. He was in Somalia in 1993 when US forces were serious bitten by small insurgent groups, forcing the US to withdraw from that crisis.

Africom in Action

AFRICOM justifies its presence in Africa on its website as follows:

“Africa is growing in military, strategic and economic importance in global affairs. However, many nations on the African continent continue to rely on the international community for assistance with security concerns. From the US perspective, it makes strategic sense to help build the capability for African partners, and organizations such as the African Standby Force, to take the lead in establishing a security environment. This security, will, in turn, set the groundwork for increased political stability and economic growth.”

This helps explain why the AFRICOM budget rose from $50 million in the fiscal year of 2007 to $310 million in FY 2009 fiscal year 2010 in running costs, not military aid to the member countries. It also shows the significance of this program for the US government. The command gave the US military the possibility of having a physical presence in numerous African countries and assigning Defense Department personnel to US embassies and diplomatic missions to coordinate Defense Department programs. The US Africa Command is now spending billions in training and arm supplies. It is expecting to spend nothing less than $20 billion in 2010, and this will benefit the armies of a very many repressive regimes.

Take the case of Sudan. Openly, Western governments, including the US, have never been more critical of the regime in Khartoum, even accusing it of committing genocide in Darfur. The fact that the head of Sudan’s intelligence agency, wanted by the International Criminal Court, was secretly jetted to the US by the CIA to discuss military interests in the Horn of Africa was one of the most disgusting acts of hypocrisy by the Bush administration.

The right-wing Republican lobbyists for AFRICOM never made their intentions secret. They have said time and again that America cannot rely on the unconquered Middle East for its oil supply; for them, Africa is the answer. But the aggressive nature of this thirst for African oil and other resources has no doubt also been fueled by the presence of China in key strategic areas.

Today, US Africa Command is involved in almost 38 African countries with the presumed agenda of training anti-terrorist forces. These include Chad, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone. The expansion of the AFRICOM central command in Djibouti adds to the significance that the US government puts into this project. According to AFRICOM, “US Central Command maintains its traditional relationship with Egypt, but AFRICOM coordinates with Egypt on issues relating to Africa security.” In Egypt, the US state is spending billions of American tax payers’ money in military equipment and training to arm one of the most repressive military forces in the continent. All of this speaks for itself rather than the simple and cheap rhetoric of bringing stability to the continent in the name of the “war against terror.”

The 2006 invasion of Somalia by the Ethiopian forces was clearly a proxy war, with AFRICOM providing the logisticsallowing a criminal organization like al-Shabab to claim a legitimate reason for its war and brutal terror against the very people both sides claim to be freeing: the poor ordinary Somalis. It is significant that as debate was held on where the headquarters of AFRICOM should be located, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi declared that Ethiopia will be willing to work closely with the Command. According to a UN situation report of February 5, 2010, an estimated 3.2 million people in Somalia are in need of emergency food aid, one in six children are seriously malnourished, and the internally displaced population is in the millions and continues to rise.

The planned assault on Mogadishu has registered its first civilian casualties this March, forcing more civilians to flee the capital. The aim of this military operation is to retake control of the capital from the al-Shabab militants. The Obama administration has been planning this assault for a while now. Assistant secretary of state for Africa, Johnnie Carlson is said to have been very instrumental in the preparation. He nonetheless said: “This is not an American offensive… the US military is not on the ground in Somalia. Full stop.” In another press briefing Carlson held with the Ertharin Cousin, US ambassador to the UN Mission in Rome, he said: “We have provided limited military support to the Transitional Federal Government… We do so in the firm belief that the TFG seeks to end the violence in Somalia that is caused by al-Shabaab and other extremist organizations…”

True, there might not be any US troops on the ground, but it is an American war contracted to some Somalis, African Union forces, and Ethiopians. The US has been training intelligence forces, providing surveillance, logistic support and money to buy bullets and guns; and there are even speculations that American forces might provide aerial bombing of militant positions.

This is against the recent advice given to the Obama administration, which warns of a need for a change of approach from US support to the Transitional Federal Government headed by Sheik Ahmed Sharif. The Report, “Somali: A New Approach,” prepared by the Council on Foreign Relations, advised the administration to engage in “Constructive Disengagement” rather than spending so much on ineffective government that has very little support among the Somali population. Critics might be right to say that the Obama administration is playing into the hands of the Islamic extremists.

This was the case too with “Operation Lightning Thunder” in 2008, involving Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the liberated Southern Sudan.

It was clear to all sincere analysts that the Lord’s Resistance Army was cornered and pacified, and that operation “Lightning Thunder” was no more than the clearing of the oil fields. Dr. Jendayi Frazer, then an assistant secretary of state in the Bush government, was said to have been the main initiator of that operation. Riek Machar, vice president of Southern Sudan, said as much in a documentary aired by the AlJazeera TV. Ugandan military commanders have openly confirmed that they have received logistics support from the Americans, including satellite phones, GPS receivers, maps and US contributions to fuel costs of the military vehicles involved in the operation. The results: over 1,000 civilians dead and the internal displacement of an estimated half million people. All this followed the 2006 failed operation by a UN team of US-trained Guatemalan commando to assassinate Joseph Kone, leader of LRAin which all members of the commando were killed by the LRA. Southern Sudan refused to actively take part, only closing their borders to avoid crossing of arm groups into their territory.

Conclusion

When the Chad-Cameroon pipeline project was put on the table in the prelude to AFRICOM’s unveiling, the oil companies made sure of IMF and World Bank support. This was not because of lack of capital. These two institutions are the most reliable and effective discipliners of the African nations involved should they at any time violate the contract against the interest of the big oil companies involved in the project. The arrangement was never designed for transparency, and when the initial funds of the project were embezzled in the member countries there was never a call to halt the projecteven though the World Bank had put in a code of conduct as condition for the funding.

There is nothing new in armies conquering territories before the looting begins. For centuries states have been using their armies in foreign adventures in the interest of capital. The modern world has just surpassed the crude methods that were used in centuries past, and is now utilizing sophisticated techniques consciously designed to confuse the human mind. With the “moral high ground” of free market capitalism, the African bourgeoisie are content with being sub-contractors; the whole mathematics becomes easier, especially when it comes to the “ethical sharing” of the wealth from the looting. To say that Africans are benefitting from the project through employment and the creation of a middle class are fine words that defy the lawlessness and suffering on the continent.

Source: http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=18412

 

Related:

The US-NATO Conquest of Africa

Global Warfare USA: The World is the Pentagon’s Oyster

US-NATO Using Military Might To Control World Energy Resources


20 Comments on “AFRICOM and the USA’s Hidden Battle for Africa”

  1. Annie Ladysmith says:

    Yeah, i bet all those Africans in the 38 African command countries are lining up to get their “vacines”. In fact i bet that is the first thing they are commanded to do.

  2. Dwight Baker says:

    Africa our hearts cries out for your people!
    In the 14th century the Portuguese arrived to explore the Congo and took missionaries with them and their overt illicit actions are as horrid as any can read. And that indigenous people has never been able to re-group or re-coup from being dumb down.
    Dwight Baker
    March 31, 2010
    Dbaker007@stx.rr.com

    Eagles Eye View Aiming at Issues for We the People Advocates

    In our work we have developed friends in Africa. We represent their needs best as we can, as Advocates. Our interest first was in the Congo aiding a Missionary educated and connected to a Christian Church group in Australia. Our first focus was to educate certain ones in the different cities congregations, after doing go with them into the jungles and help aid those that were hapless homeless helpless and had become the group laid waste in actions of genocide.

    However “cold feet” prevented him from going forward with that kind of mission. During that time we built a huge library of information on the people indigenous to the Congo for how does one connect with those folks if he or she lacks the base education to know where the came from and what has been going on and what do they see their future to be.

    Next we became connected with a Pastor in Uganda that has a school and feeding center for the Slum kids. His little congregation provides most if not all of the needs for the school. We publish regularly around hoping to gain a few contributors for that saintly kind of work. And during that time we again have built a library of information concerning Uganda.
    And the same is true for the Congo Uganda and Sudan their counties have great wealth in natural resources that is under attack to be stolen by the elite dietist they are called the Bilderbergs. Without any reservations the article printed is factual yet the atrocities can be expanded even greater. And as in all good things work toward knowing the truth held in the facts of history is the one thing that gives us power to resist.

    Read some from history about the origins of the horrors present today.

    The Kingdom of Loango extended from Cape Lopez (Libreville) to near the Congo; and the Congo Empire was mentioned by the Portuguese as early as the fourteenth century. The Chief of Loango, Mani-Congo, extended his kingdom as far as the Kasai and Upper Zambesi Rivers. This kingdom had been in existence for centuries when the Portuguese arrived in the fifteenth century. They spoke admiringly of its capital, Sette-Camo, which they called San Salvador. The Kingdom of Congo dates back to the fourteenth century. At the height of its power it extended over modern Angola, as far east as the Kasai and Upper Zambesi Rivers. [1]
    The Congo Free State was a government privately controlled by Leopold II, King of the Belgians through a dummy non-governmental organization, the Association Internationale Africaine. Leopold was the sole shareholder and chairman, who increasingly used it for rubber, copper and other minerals in the upper Lualaba River basin (though it had been set up on the understanding that its purpose was to uplift the natives and develop the area). The state included the entire area of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo and existed from 1885 to 1908. The Congo Free State eventually earned infamy due to the increasingly brutal mistreatment of the local peoples and plunder of natural resources, leading to its abolition and annexation by the government of Belgium in 1908. [2]
    In 1876 Leopold II, King of the Belgians organized the International African Association with the cooperation of the leading African explorers and the support of several European governments for the promotion of African exploration and colonization. In 1877, Henry Morton Stanley called attention to the Congo region and was sent there by the association, the expense being defrayed by Leopold.[1] Through treaties with chiefs of the local tribes, rights were acquired to a great area along the Congo, and military posts were established. In some cases chiefs not only handed over their lands, but also promised to help provide workers through the local custom of forced labor. [3]
    Leopold II of Belgium King of the Belgians. He is chiefly remembered as the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State, a private project undertaken by the King. He used Henry Morton Stanley to help him lay claim to the Congo, which included the entire area now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
    Leopold ran the Congo brutally, by proxy through a mercenary force, as his personal fiefdom. Though he extracted a personal fortune from the Congo, his regime became one of the most infamous international scandals of the turn of the 20th century. The famous 1904 report by the British Consul Roger Casement led to the arrest and punishment of white officials who had been responsible for cold-blooded mass killings during a rubber-collecting expedition in 1903 (including one Belgian national for causing the shooting of at least 122 Congolese people).[4]
    After a number of unsuccessful schemes for colonies in Africa or Asia, in 1876 he organized a private holding company disguised as an international scientific and philanthropic association, which he called the International African Society.
    In 1878, under the auspices of the holding company, he hired the famous explorer Henry Morton Stanley to establish a colony in the Congo region.[3] Much diplomatic maneuvering resulted in the Berlin Conference of 1884–85, at which representatives of fourteen European countries and the United States recognized Leopold as sovereign of most of the area he and Stanley had laid claim to. On 5 February 1885, the result was the Congo Free State (later becoming, successively, the Belgian Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Zaire, and now the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC — not to be confused with Republic of the Congo formerly owned by France), an area 76 times larger than Belgium, which Leopold was free to rule as a personal domain through his private army, the Force Publique.
    A result of Leopold’s colonialism, children had their hands amputated when they did not meet demands for the Belgians.[4]
    Forced labor was extorted from the natives. The abuses suffered were horrific not only in the rubber industry, including enslavement and mutilation of the native population. Missionary John Harris of Baringa, for example, was so shocked by what he had come across that he wrote to Leopold’s chief agent in the Congo saying: “I have just returned from a journey inland to the village of Insongo Mboyo. The abject misery and utter abandon is positively indescribable. I was so moved, Your Excellency, by the people’s stories that I took the liberty of promising them that in future you will only kill them for crimes they commit.”
    Adam Hochschild devotes a chapter of his book to the problem of estimating the death toll. He cites several recent lines of investigation, by anthropologist Jan Vansina and others, examining local sources, from police records, religious records, oral traditions, genealogies, personal diaries, and “many others”, which generally agree with the assessment of the 1919 Belgian government commission: roughly half the population perished during the Free State period. Since the first official census by the Belgian authorities in 1924 put the population at about 10 million, that implies a rough estimate of 10 million dead.[9] [4]
    How can we sane deny the facts of history?

    [1] http://www.africawithin.com/clarke/LumumbaCongo.html
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Free_State
    [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Free_State
    [4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_II_of_Belgium

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