On 17 October, the head of US Africa Command (AFRICOM), US Marine Corps General Michael Langley visited Morocco. Langley met with senior Moroccan military leaders, including Inspector General of the Moroccan Armed Forces Belkhir El Farouk. Since 2004, AFRICOM has held its ‘largest and premier annual exercise’, African Lion, partly on Moroccan soil. This past June, ten countries participated in the African Lion 2022, with observers from Israel (for the first time) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Langley’s visit is part of a broader US push onto the African continent, which we documented in our dossier no. 42 (July 2021), Defending Our Sovereignty: US Military Bases in Africa and the Future of African Unity, a joint publication with The Socialist Movement of Ghana’s Research Group.
Ten years ago, I embarked on a quest to answer that question at TomDispatch, chronicling a growing American military presence on that continent, a build-up of both logistical capabilities and outposts, and the possibility that far more was occurring out of sight. “Keep your eye on Africa,” I concluded. “The U.S. military is going to make news there for years to come.” I knew I had a story when U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) failed to answer basic questions honestly. And the command’s reaction to the article told me that I also had a new beat. Not long after publication, AFRICOM wrote a letter of complaint to my editor, Tom Engelhardt, attempting to discredit my investigation. (I responded point by point in a follow-up piece.)
October 1, 2022 is the 14th anniversary of the launch of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Yet, jihadist terrorist violence on the African continent has increased since the founding of AFRICOM and NATO’s destruction of Libya resulting in civilian casualties and instability, which the West has used as pretext and justification for the continued need for AFRICOM. Since its founding, coups carried out by AFRICOM-trained soldiers have also increased. That is why the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) is organizing an International Month of Action Against AFRICOM in October. This is an effort to raise the public's awareness about how the presence of U.S. military forces exacerbates violence and instability throughout the continent.
On April 26, 2022, the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced that they had set up an office in the US Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia. According to AFRICOM Brigadier General Peter Bailey, Deputy Director for Strategy, Engagement and Programs, the Office of Security Cooperation would be based in the US Embassy building. Social media in Zambia buzzed with rumors about the creation of a US military base in the country. Defense Minister Ambrose Lufuma released a statement to say that “Zambia has no intention whatsoever of establishing or hosting any military bases on Zambian soil.”
The Biden Administration's recent decision to return U.S. troops to Somalia represents another effort on the part of the U.S. to deny agency and independence to African people. On the 59th commemoration of African Liberation Day, the Black Alliance for Peace expresses its unequivocal opposition to this redeployment. The 500 U.S. troops sent to Somalia are the latest to violate that nation’s sovereignty. As is the case with all U.S. interventions, the underlying reasons are not only depraved but also indifferent to the constant suffering of African people caused by western-induced militarism and war. The reintroduction of the U.S. military (AFRICOM ) on the ground is related to a dispute between Somalia and the U.S. oil company, Coastline Exploration Ltd, over the validity of an oil exploration agreement.
We are honored to participate in this annual commemoration of Africa Liberation Day some 59 years after the founding meeting of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Much has transpired since 1963 when more than 30 independent African states held this gathering and pledged to work towards the total liberation of the continent and greater unity among governments throughout the region. Today, the African Union (AU), founded in 2002 in Sirte, Libya, is facing one of the most profound challenges of the post-colonial period. The struggle for the unification of the AU member-states cannot occur absent of the removal of foreign military forces now occupying several geo-political regions.
President Joe Biden of the United States has announced through the Department of Defense the redeployment of Pentagon troops to the Horn of Africa state of Somalia. This is not the first time that U.S. troops have been sent into Somalia due to the strategic geopolitical significance of the country as an oil producer and oceanic gateway to critical trade routes within the world economic system. The redeployment in Somalia coincides with the escalation of a Washington-engineered war in Eastern Europe over the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and efforts designed to weaken the Russian Federation. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a surprise visit to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, on April 25, emphasized the objectives of Washington and Wall Street in the funding of a conventional war in the region.
Since the post-World War II period national liberation movements and independent countries in Africa have developed solid diplomatic and economic relations with the former Soviet Union and today’s Russian Federation. It is this history which underlines the refusal of numerous African governments and mass organizations to side with the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in its efforts to encircle Russia in order to leave it as a diminished state dependent upon the dominant imperialist nations globally. In the immediate aftermath of the beginning of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, the racist treatment of approximately 16,000 African students as well as thousands of others from Asia gained international news coverage.
Considering the public media attention and concern about possible expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), it is worth reminding people about NATO’s bloody history in Africa. NATO was founded in 1949 after WWII at a time when African countries were still under the yoke of colonialism. In fact most of the original founders of NATO had been Africa’s principal colonizers such as UK, France, Portugal, Belgium, Italy and the USA as lead NATO organizer and dominant partner. The organization was established as a collective defense against the Soviet Union with the requirement (Article 5) that any attack on one was considered an attack on all and therefore requiring a collective response.
Troops trained by AFRICOM have been behind nine coups d’etat on the African continent in the thirteen years of the military command’s existence. All but one of the G5 Sahel countries have experienced a coup in that period, and the military training that the U.S. and France provide to troops in these countries through the various AFRICOM exercises and the French Foreign Legion among other installations, present a serious concern. A 2017 study using data from 189 countries shows that greater numbers of military officers trained by the U.S. Military increase the probability of a military coup, and as Netfa Freeman wrote previously , AFRICOM serves as a “coup incubator” by emboldening a military class on the African continent that the U.S. can’t control.
In a blatant threat to China’s presence, Djibouti recently hosted the US-led “Allied Appreciation Day,” in which Britain, France, and Japan showcased “a variety of equipment that is part of their military operations in the Horn of Africa” (HOA). The Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force-HOA reported that the events fused Armistice, Remembrance, and Veterans’ Days. Attendees participated in “demonstrations featuring a variety of allied military capabilities to include a military flyover.” Successive Djiboutian regimes have clung to power by promoting their small country in the Horn of Africa as a vital tool in the West’s quest for global dominance. During Europe’s late-19th century Scramble for Africa, the French colonists understood the strategic importance of the region for trade ships and naval deployments.
The UN World Food Program’s (WFP) suspension of food aid to Dessie and Kombolcha after the liberation of these two strategically important cities in the war-torn northern Ethiopian state, Amhara, is a “travesty of the highest degree”, said Horn of Africa TV’s editor, Elias Amare. The UN has cited as its reason the looting of WFP’s warehouses and the intimidation of its staff in these cities by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The TPLF started the war by attacking a federal army base in Tigray in November 2020, and subsequently invaded the neighboring states of Amhara and Afar in July 2021. However, the UN’s decision to suspend aid to the two cities came after the TPLF was pushed out of it by the joint force of the national army and Amharan militias.
The U.S. has built military-to-military relations with 53 out of the 54 African countries that include agreements to cede operational command to AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command. The broad network of AFRICOM military bases, as well as those from France and other world powers, are examples of how African states are surrendering their sovereignty through neocolonial relationships with Western countries. African self-determination and national sovereignty are impossible as long as the U.S. and its European allies are allowed to use military power to control African land, labor, and resources. As Netfa Freeman pointed out in a recent article, “an indoctrination about the inherent goodness of the U.S.-European role in Africa accompanies this military training with blindspots about the true legacy of colonialism.”
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It's a very interesting environment, and it's interesting that you connect up the issue of media, CNN, for example, and Facebook. That's a very important and interesting kind of connection. Why? Oh, I think we forget that Facebook is supposed to be merely a platform for the exchange of information and ideas. But there's tremendous pressure on Facebook to, in fact, operate as a publisher by deciding what content is appropriate for users to share and what content is inappropriate. CNN, of course, is a privately owned corporation. But Black Alliance for Peace suggests that CNN is part of what we refer to as the ideological apparatus of the state. That is, even though it's privately owned, there's not much space between its positions, the worldview that it advocates, and that of the US state and the ruling elements that we say control the US state. So, in the current media environment, private Western corporations—which pretend to be "objective" media outlets—work in tandem with the state.