(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India
Military in Africa.
ON October 1, the United States
Military Command for
Africa (AFRICOM) formally started operations from Monrovia,
the capital of Liberia
in West Africa. This move shows the
importance that the Bush administration is giving to Africa.
In the US state
command structure, Africa is now on par with Pacific Rim (Pacific
Europe (European Command), Latin America (Southern Command), West Asia
Command) and North America (Northern
African leaders have been openly critical about the sudden military
shown by Washington.
The continent is currently grappling with myriad crises but what the
governments want is help of the economic kind. African leaders, barring
exceptions, are united in their view that the days of outside military
intervention in the continent are over.
The American general in charge
of AFRICOM, General
William Ward, in a bid to allay the widespread suspicions on the
said that the new US
command has no “hidden agenda”. Interestingly, only Liberia
was willing to host the new
American military command. During the cold war days, Liberia
was an important outpost
for American Intelligence. The CIA had one of its most important
stations in Monrovia.
The Liberian president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf hopes that the American
will bring in much needed aid as well as protection for her government.
Liberian president has already given the US army the exclusive role
training her country’s armed forces.
The headquarters of AFRICOM for
the time being will
formally remain in the German city of Stuttgart
though for all practical purposes it has shifted to Monrovia. The Bush administration has
trying to pressurise many African nations to host American troops on
for the last couple of years on a permanent basis. The leading
countries on the
continent like South Africa
have openly voiced their opposition to the American game plan of
embedding the continent in preparation for the looming new cold war.
African leaders have openly voiced their opposition to the presence of
troops on African soil. The South African Defence minister, Mosiuoa
refused to meet general Ward despite many requests for an appointment.
General Ward claimed that
finding a permanent location
for AFRICOM was not a problem as Africa
big continent. The US
already operating a military base in Djibouti situated in the
Africa. The French already have a long standing military presence
American soldiers have been permanently deployed there to keep a watch
Eritrea and Somalia.
AFRICOM has taken over the
US European Command’s “Trans-Sahara Counter-terrorism Initiative” along
military and maritime training programs for individual African
General Ward told the media in
the first week of
October that AFRICOM will not be used to gain control of African
resources like oil and gas. He also denied that the US had
any intentions of building
big permanent bases in the African continent. Though the US administration has not clearly spelt
precise objectives of the new military command, American commentators
have said that the move reflects the concerns in Washington about the increasing
influence on the African continent. The other key objectives are to
supplies and “combat Islamic extremism”.
The Bush administration so far
has preferred to use
proxies to fight its wars on the African continent. Somalia
is an important
in its troops into the country at the behest of Washington just as peace had
fact, it was in February 2007, two months after the aerial bombardment
by US planes on Somalia
started, that the US
of Defence announced the creation of AFRICOM to “coordinate all US
security interests throughout the continent”. The Pentagon has said
AFRICOM’s primary mission will be preventing “problems from becoming
and crises from becoming conflicts”
President George W Bush had said
at the time that the
“new command will strengthen our security cooperation with Africa and
new opportunities to bolster the capabilities of our partners in Africa”. The US
currently gets 20 per cent of its hydro-carbon supplies from Africa.
The figure is likely to increase substantially in the next decade.
Ezekiel Pajibo and Emira Woods, writing in the US
journal—“Foreign Policy in Focus”, said that AFRICOM is a reflection of
military driven US
engagement with Africa” and reflects the desperation of the US
administration to control the increasingly strategic natural resources
Africans have not forgotten the
devious role played by
administrations on the African continent. They had propped up the
apartheid regime in South
Africa and at the same time had
supported right wing movements. The long and bloody civil wars which
devastated the economies of Angola
are illustrations. Washington
had tried its best to defeat the governments that had successfully
colonialism in the mid-seventies. In other parts of Africa, the West
corrupt dictators like Mobutu Sese Seko in the Congo.
In those days too, the real
motive of the West was to control the resources of the region under the
of the cold war.
Now in the guise of fighting
terrorism and Al Qaeda,
is seeking to exercise more control of the continent’s mineral
especially oil, diamonds and uranium. AFRICOM being located in Liberia in oil rich West Africa is not
coincidence despite assertions by the Pentagon that the creation of
does not signal a “new scramble for Africa”.
In recent years the US
significantly expanded its naval presence in the Gulf of Guinea
and conducts continuous patrols in the region. A key US
military document, the 2006 National Security Strategy for the United States had emphasised that “Africa holds growing geo-strategic importance
and is a
high priority of this administration”. Between the years 2000-2006, the
military aid to the continent. 47 armies of African countries receive US
The US Defence secretary, Robert
the new regional headquarters of AFRICOM, said that it was “yet another
important step in modernising our defence arrangements in light of 21st
century realities”. He expressed the hope that AFRICOM will
lasting security relationship with Africa,
vast region of growing importance in the globe”. The
maintains more than
800 military facilities in 140 countries. Hundreds of thousands of
operate from these bases intimidating the countries they surround.
believes that AFRICOM is being set up to provide “regional stability”
The general consensus among
African leaders is that
the setting up of AFRICOM would lead to a further increase in US
in the internal affairs of African countries and also fuel an arms race
continent that is already awash with small arms. Salim Lone, a Kenyan
who was a
senior official in the UN, wrote that AFRICOM will lead to the
of Africa. “We don’t need
Africa, we don’t need securitisation of aid and development in Africa”, Lone told the BBC. The
African Union (AU) has taken a principled
stand that the continent’s problems will be solved by Africans and not
outside interventions as was done in the past.
The conflicts in Liberia,
Sierra Leone, Burundi, and Ivory Coast
have been resolved by
African leaders. In Liberia
and Sierra Leone,
the West African regional grouping---ECOWAS had played a key role. The
successfully intervened in Ivory Coast
meddling from London and Washington, it
was Thabo Mbeki, working on
behalf of SADC and the AU, who succeeded in breaking the political
impasse. In Kenya
was the AU which took the lead in finding a political solution after
seemingly spun out of control. Danny
Glover, the renowned American actor and a champion of progressive
with Nicole C. Lee of the TransAfrica Forum, wrote last year that
military strategies, African countries “need immediate debt
trade policies and increased development assistance”.
Civil wars, genocide and terrorist threats,
they emphasised, must be tackled by the AU.