Category Archives: Central Africa

Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda.

Middle Africa (as used by the United Nations when categorizing geographic sub-regions) is an analogous term that includes Angola, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and São Tomé and Príncipe. All of the states in the UN subregion of Middle Africa, plus those otherwise commonly reckoned in central Africa ( 11 states in total ), comprise the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Scramble for Africa

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JOHN CHERIAN

The neocolonial scramble for Africa has truly begun with the installation of the National Transitional Council in Libya.

REUTERS

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda at a news conference in Kampala on October 16. He said the despatch of U.S. troops to deal with the rebel outfit Lord’s Resistance Army was not meant for combat but rather liaison and support in the area of intelligence.

THE installation of the National Transitional Council (NTC) government in Libya by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) could signal the beginning of an open neocolonial scramble for Africa. Suspicions about such a blueprint were first aroused when President George W. Bush set up the United States-Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2008, months before demitting office. The demand for a permanent American military footprint on the African continent had come from right-wing think tanks that enjoyed great clout in the corridors of power during the eight years of the Bush presidency.

A background paper prepared in 2002 by the influential right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation had called for the creation of a military command for the continent so that “direct military intervention”, using air power and naval forces, could become possible to “protect vital U.S. interests” in Africa. Such interventions, its authors wrote, would not necessitate the deployment of U.S. forces on the ground. Such wars, the paper proposed, should be fought with the help of local allies. The U.S. Defence Department’s African Contingency Operation Training and Assistance Programme is deeply involved in training the armies of many countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana, America’s close allies in the region.

The authors of the paper clearly spelt out what they meant by vital interests: “With its vast natural and mineral resources, Africa remains strategically important to the West, as it has been for hundreds of years, and its geostrategic significance is likely to rise in the 21st century.” According to the National Intelligence Council, “the United States is likely to draw 25 per cent of its oil from West Africa by 2015, surpassing the volume imported from the Persian Gulf”, the Heritage Foundation study reported. The Bush administration’s Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Walter Kansteiner was quick to echo the views expressed by the foundation. He went on record stating that Africa’s oil had “become a national strategic interest”.

Libya is among Africa’s biggest oil producers. China was importing 11 per cent of Libyan oil for its domestic needs before the NATO-instigated civil war in the North African state started seven months ago. It could now find itself locked out of new oil contracts. Top functionaries of the NTC have said that China, Russia and Brazil would be frozen out of contracts.

AP

JOSEPH KONY, THE leader of the LRA. A file photograph.

These countries had criticised the misuse of the United Nations Security Council resolution on Libya to bring about a regime change. China gets around one-third of its oil from Africa. The French newspaper Liberacion recently published documents revealing the NTC leadership’s offer of 35 per cent of Libya’s oil production to France in return for its “total and permanent support” for the new government. Gene Cretz, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, recently blurted out that “oil is the jewel of the crown of Libyan national resources”.

President Barack Obama, who famously claimed that he was leading the war in Libya “from behind”, used precisely the tactics prescribed in the Heritage Foundation report. AFRICOM played an important behind-the-scenes role in planning the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya. U.S. Special Forces teamed up with its counterparts from France and the United Kingdom to arm and organise the ragtag rebel forces into a fighting unit. It was the coordinated air strikes, coupled with an amphibious operation led by the U.S., that finally led to the fall of Tripoli. South African President Jacob Zuma complained bitterly that it was NATO bombing that prevented the African Union (A.U.) from hammering out a negotiated settlement to the civil war in Libya. More than 200 prominent Africans wrote an open letter in August criticising the recourse to “militarised diplomacy to effect regime change in Libya”.

In early October, a few days before the fall of Sirte and the killing of Muammar Qaddafi, Obama ordered the despatch of 100 U.S. Special Forces troops to Uganda. He said the decision to send the troops was taken to help the U.S.’ ally in the region, Yoweri Museveni, defeat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which was engaged in a guerilla war with the central government in Kampala. Obama told Congress that the troops were deployed in order “to assist African forces in the removal of Joseph Koni [the LRA leader] and the LRA leadership from the battlefield”. Museveni, one of Africa’s long-serving authoritarian rulers, was a one-time friend of Qaddafi. Qaddafi had extended support to the rebel army that brought Museveni to power in 1986. After coming to power, Museveni became one of the trusted allies of the West and was regularly feted at the White House.

At America’s bidding, Uganda has sent peacekeepers to Somalia under the A.U. umbrella to keep the Islamist Al Shabab militia out of the capital, Mogadishu. Two years ago, Ethiopia dispatched its troops to Somalia to drive away the Islamic Courts Union government from Mogadishu after it had managed to unite most of the country. In the face of immense resistance, the Ethiopian troops were withdrawn, but the country was left in chaos again. Al Shabab exploited this and now poses a potent threat to U.S. interests in the region.

In the middle of October, Kenya replicated what Ethiopia did. Encouraged by the U.S., it sent its troops deep into Somalia to fight Al Shabab. The U.S. is providing air support to the Kenyan military. The Kenyan invasion has already led to terror attacks in Kenyan cities. Only a handful of African states have bothered to send peacekeepers to the war-ravaged country, viewing the conflict there as one mainly instigated by the West.

Observers of the African scene are suspicious of the Obama administration’s sudden decision to send Special Forces to Uganda. Obama has also indicated that the U.S. forces will be sent to the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, ostensibly to help the governments there to crush rebel groups. AFRICOM provides billions of dollars worth of equipment to the armies of countries that are friendly to the U.S. The U.S. military is already helping counter-insurgency operations in Mali and Niger, where the marginalised Tuareg ethnic group has raised the banner of revolt. “With Libya secure, an American invasion of Africa is under way,” observed John Pilger in a recent article.

The LRA, which operates along Uganda’s borders with Southern Sudan and the Central African Republic, was never considered a serious threat in the 24 years that it has been active. It is said to have around 500 fighters, many of them child soldiers. Many African commentators suspect that the real goal of the Obama administration is to start preparing the ground for a permanent military base for AFRICOM on the continent. AFRICOM is currently headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, but it has a major military facility in Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, a small state located in the Horn of Africa. In all, 1,800 American troops are permanently based there.

In the island state of Seychelles, the U.S. has secretly deployed MQ-9 Reaper drones. These “hunter-killers” have been deployed extensively over Somalia. African civil society is very much opposed to U.S. military involvement in Africa. No African country has until now openly offered permanent basing facilities, although there were reports in the media that Liberia and Morocco were among the countries that were being short-listed by Washington. The regional grouping, Southern African Development Community (SADC), has refused to give any kind of support or access to AFRICOM.

Military analysts say that from the strategic point of view, land-locked Uganda provides the ideal location for a permanent U.S. military base on the African continent. With Libya already under NATO stewardship, the U.S. can regain control over the military bases it was ousted from following the removal of the pro-Western King Idris. It has been a long-term U.S. goal to occupy the strategic crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Arab world. The death of Qaddafi has made this goal an achievable reality. The next step is to ensure the U.S. military’s stranglehold on Central Africa to control the region’s hydrocarbon and other mineral resources. Uganda’s neighbours, such as Congo and Southern Sudan, are rich in mineral resources, which include diamonds and precious metals such as gold, platinum, lithium and cobalt.

According to oil industry experts, Uganda has huge untapped oil resources. A UPI report in March said: “East Africa is emerging as the next oil boom following a big strike in Uganda’s Lake Albert Basin. Other oil and gas reserves have been found in Tanzania and Mozambique and exploration is under way in Ethiopia and war-torn Somalia.” The region is rich in rare earths, which remain largely unexploited. Currently, China has a monopoly over rare-earth production located within its borders.

The Economist had noted that “several jealous western governments and companies want to stall China’s advance into the Congo basin, with its vast reserves of minerals and timber”. The big economic and diplomatic stride made by China on the African continent has caused a lot of heartburn in Western capitals. China has been focussing on Africa since the 1960s. China started investing heavily there ever since it began to emerge as a big economic power. Its investments in 2010 were estimated at $47 billion. Beijing’s policy of giving liberal “no-strings-attached” loans to African nations has won it a lot of goodwill. But with Chinese labour and capital moving into the continent in a big way, the resentment that has been building up in some countries has come in handy for the West.

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Bill Gates advises Uganda on oil cash

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates

Published On: Thu, Nov 3rd, 2011

The world’s second richest man and one of its most influential philanthropists will today advise the G20 to ask government to make details of Uganda’s oil agreements public.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is also expected to ask the G20 to ensure that government declares the money it receives from its oil resources. Mr Gates’ comments come a day after a parliamentary ad hoc committee started investigating allegations of corruption and unfair agreements in Uganda’s largely opaque oil sector which is expected to generate $2 billion per year at peak production, compared to a national budget of $3 billion.

“This oil revenue should have a huge impact on the government’s ability to address the needs of millions of poor Ugandans,” Mr Gates will today tell leaders of the G20, which include the world’s richest and most powerful countries. “However, we have no insight into the country’s oil leasing arrangements, and, as a result, Ugandan citizens have no means to protect their interests.”

Mr Gates’ comments on Uganda are part of a report on financing global development he has written for the G20 meeting at the request of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who currently holds its rotational leadership. The full report will be published today.

Mr Gates has closely been following developments in Uganda where his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a major donor to health projects, and is keen to see Uganda’s oil money spent transparently on social and economic development.

Ms Winnie Ngabiirwe of Publish What You Pay Uganda, a pro-transparency pressure group, said yesterday: “For a long time now, Ugandans have asked our government to do exactly what Mr Gates is asking for. Unfortunately, our government has continued to dismiss our concerns, treating the oil and gas sector with the highest level of secrecy. Making agreements accessible to Ugandans, and publishing what the country is earning is an important step necessary for fighting against corruption and embezzlement.”

Energy Minister Irene Muloni told Daily Monitor yesterday that there was no need to worry since the oil industry in Uganda is young. “All the appropriate laws will be put in place. Uganda’s oil resources will be adequately managed,” she said, advising this newspaper to seek President Museveni’s view over Mr Gate’s presentation.

Tullow Oil is in final stages of farming down two-thirds of its interest in Uganda’s oil fields to France’s Total and China’s CNOOC. In July 2010, the US passed the Dodd-Frank Act, which calls for all oil, gas and mining companies listed in the US to publish their payments to foreign governments.

This would include CNOOC, which is listed in the US, but not UK-listed Tullow.
However, last week the European Commission proposed a new law which would implement the same requirement for all 27 EU member countries.

If adopted, Tullow and Total would have to publish their payments to Uganda unless government passes a secrecy law making it explicitly illegal for any oil, gas or mining company to publish information about their activities in Uganda.

Mr Gates is also expected to encourage Uganda to sign up to the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and gives an example of Ghana, which used the initiative to raise minimum mining royalties from three to six per cent. “The problem is that EITI is a voluntary initiative, and only five African countries are currently compliant, although more are working towards it,” Mr Gates says. “All G20 countries should require the mining and oil companies listed on their stock exchanges to disclose payments to governments.”

By John Njoroge, Daily Monitor

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More Details On American billionaire George Soros, Who Funds the Fall of Museveni

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27 October 2011
By Our Reporter

In our yesterday’s story, “NEW PLOT TO OVERTHROW MUSEVENI LEAKS”, we informed you of an American billionaire George Soros who reportedly has interests in Uganda’s oil and who funds civil society organizations and opposition parties to bring down President Museveni’s government.

We have now established more information on billionaire George Soros ;

Soros sits on the executive board of an influential “crisis management organization” that recently recommended the U.S. deploy a special advisory military team to Uganda to help with operations and run an intelligence platform, a recommendation Obama’s action seems to fulfill.

The president emeritus of that organization, the International Crisis Group, is also the principal author of “Responsibility to protect,” the military doctrine used by Obama to justify the U.S.-led NATO campaign in Libya.

Soros’ own Open Society Institute is one of only three nongovernmental funders of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect, a doctrine that has been cited many times by activists urging intervention in Uganda.

Authors and advisers of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, including a center founded and led by Samantha Power, the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights, also helped to found the International Criminal Court.

Several of the doctrine’s main founders also sit on boards with Soros, who is a major proponent of the doctrine.

Soros also maintains close ties to oil interests in Uganda. His organizations have been leading efforts purportedly to facilitate more transparency in Uganda’s oil industry, which is being tightly controlled by the country’s leadership.

Soros’ hand in Ugandan oil industry

Oil exploration began in Uganda’s northwestern Lake Albert basin nearly a decade ago, with initial strikes being made in 2006.

Uganda’s Energy Ministry estimates the country has over 2 billion barrels of oil, with some estimates going as high as 6 billion barrels. Production is set to begin in 2015, delayed from 2013 in part because the country has not put in place a regulatory framework for the oil industry.

A 2008 national oil and gas policy, proposed with aid from a Soros-funded group, was supposed to be a general road map for the handling and use of the oil. However, the policy’s recommendations have been largely ignored, with critics accusing Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni of corruption and of tightening his grip on the African country’s emerging oil sector.

Soros himself has been closely tied to oil and other interests in Uganda.

In 2008, the Soros-funded Revenue Watch Institute brought together stakeholders from Uganda and other East African countries to discuss critical governance issues, including the formation of what became Uganda’s national oil and gas policy.

Also in 2008, the Africa Institute for Energy Governance, a grantee of the Soros-funded Revenue Watch, helped established the Publish What You Pay Coalition of Uganda, or PWYP, which was purportedly launched to coordinate and streamline the efforts of the government in promoting transparency and accountability in the oil sector.

Also, a steering committee was formed for PWYP Uganda to develop an agenda for implementing the oil advocacy initiatives and a constitution to guide PWYP’s oil work.

PWYP has since 2006 hosted a number of training workshops in Uganda purportedly to promote contract transparency in Uganda’s oil sector.

PWYP is directly funded by Soros’ Open Society as well as the the Soros-funded Revenue Watch Institute. PWYP international is actually hosted by the Open Society Foundation in London.

The billionaire’s Open Society Institute, meanwhile, runs numerous offices in Uganda. It maintains a country manager in Uganda, as well as the Open Society Initiative for East Africa, which supports work in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Open Society Institute runs a Ugandan Youth Action Fund, which states its mission is to “identify, inspire, and support small groups of dedicated young people who can mobilize and influence large numbers of their peers to promote open society ideals.”

Soros group: Send military advisors to Uganda

In April 2010 Soros’ International Crisis Group, or ICG, released a report sent to the White House and key lawmakers advising the U.S. military run special operations in Uganda to seek Kony’s capture.

The report states, “To the U.S. government: Deploy a team to the theatre of operations to run an intelligence platform that centralizes all operational information from the Ugandan and other armies, as well as the U.N. and civilian networks, and provides analysis to the Ugandans to better target military operations.”

Since 2008 the U.S. has been providing financial aid in the form of military equipment to Uganda and the other regional countries to fight Kony’s LRA, but Obama’s new deployment escalates the direct U.S. involvement.

Soros sits in the ICG’s executive board along with Samuel Berger, Bill Clinton’s former national security advisor; George J. Mitchell, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader who served as a Mideast envoy to both Obama and President Bush; and Javier Solana, a socialist activist who is NATO’s former secretary-general as well as the former foreign affairs minister of Spain.

Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is the ICG’s senior advisor.

The ICG’s president emeritus is Gareth Evans, who, together with activist Ramesh Thakur, is the original founder of the Responsibility to protect doctrine, with the duo even coining the term “responsibility to protect.”

Both Evans and Thakur serve as advisory board members of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, the main group pushing the doctrine.

As WND first exposed, Soros is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect.

Soros’ Open Society is one of only three nongovernmental funders of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Government sponsors include Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Rwanda and the U.K.

Samantha Power, Arafat deputy

Meanwhile, a closer look at the Soros-funded Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect is telling. Board members of the group include former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Ireland President Mary Robinson and South African activist Desmond Tutu. Robinson and Tutu have recently made solidarity visits to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as members of a group called The Elders, which includes former President Jimmy Carter.

WND was also first to report the committee that devised the Responsibility to Protect doctrine included Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa as well as Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, a staunch denier of the Holocaust who long served as the deputy of late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

Also, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy has a seat on the advisory board of the 2001 commission that originally founded Responsibility to Protect. The commission is called the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. It invented the term “responsibility to protect” while defining its guidelines.

The Carr Center is a research center concerned with human rights located at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Samantha Power, the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights, was Carr’s founding executive director and headed the institute at the time it advised in the founding of Responsibility to Protect.

With Power’s center on the advisory board, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty first defined the Responsibility to protect doctrine.

Power reportedly heavily influenced Obama in consultations leading to the decision to bomb Libya, widely regarded as test of Responsibility to protect in action.

In his address to the nation in April explaining the NATO campaign in Libya, Obama cited the doctrine as the main justification for U.S. and international airstrikes against Libya.

Responsibility to Protect, or Responsibility to Act, as cited by Obama, is a set of principles, now backed by the United Nations, based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege, but a responsibility that can be revoked if a country is accused of “war crimes,” “genocide,” “crimes against humanity” or “ethnic cleansing.”

The term “war crimes” has at times been indiscriminately used by various United Nations-backed international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, or ICC, which applied it to Israeli anti-terror operations in the Gaza Strip. There has been fear the ICC could be used to prosecute U.S. troops who commit alleged “war crimes” overseas.

Source

New Plot To Overthrow Museveni Leaks

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26 October 2011
By Nicholas Mwesigwa

President Yoweri Museveni on Monday morning ordered security organs to investigate reports that Civil Society organisations in Uganda intend to bring down his government.

The President directed ISO and police to coordinate the investigation with the view of assessing the ‘motives and implications of a stepped up political activity of civil organisations during and after oil debate in Parliament.’

The spy chiefs will probe reports that civil organisations are colluding with opposition figures to bring government to disrepute in the eyes of the international community and isolate it.

“Find out their agenda. What do they want and why?” Museveni ordered before directing that suspected civil society members should be arrested and prosecuted.

Blacklisted civil society organisations include the Open Society Initiative for East Africa. It’s funded by American billionaire George Soros who reportedly has interests in Uganda’s oil. He is believed to have pressed US leader Barack Obama to send 100 troops to Uganda.

He also funds International Crisis Group, an organisation which prepared an alarming dossier of Joseph Kony’s atrocities in CAR and DRC. It urged Obama to send troops to Uganda to stabilise the region.

Another group backed by Soros here is from Publish What You Pay(PWYP), an organisation claiming to fight for transparency in the oil sector. It’s led by Dickens Kamugisha.

Democracy Deepening Programme is also being scrutinised for supporting FDC activities which have ended up violent.

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Africa: Expanding US interests on the continent

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Washington’s decision to send 100 military advisers to Uganda to assist in the government’s fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has  defence and intelligence analysts keenly interested to see if this may be part of a broader trend to further increase the US military’s presence in the continent…possibly in support of its quest to access African mineral and energy resources.

It is widely perceived that India and China have beaten the US and the West in the race for access to Africa’s treasure trove of natural resources by forging massive bilateral trade agreements. Bilateral US trade with Africa in 2010 stood at about US$82bn, compared to India’s US$44.6bn and China’s US$117.3bn. Combined Sino-Indian trade with Africa outstrips that of the US by some US$80bn.

Although President Barack Obama promised increased trade, investment and development aid for Africa during his presidential election campaign in 2008, the US still lacks a definitive Africa policy. The US has over the past decade focused far more on its strategic military interests when it comes to Africa. However, of late its appetite for oil also seems to be shaping its engagement in Africa, especially in North, East and West Africa.

There have been suggestions that the US’ decision to send military advisers – not combatants, it says – to Uganda was triggered by the substantial oil finds recently in Uganda. The US has denied this.

A recent Norwegian study by Paul Midford and Indra de Soysa found that the US’ arms sales to Africa far outstripped that of China. In addition, it was found that while China prefers doing business with African democracies, the US has been doing business with many African tyrants and dictators.

Washington’s growing interest in Africa from a strategic geopolitical point of view became quite evident when the US established the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007. In terms of its strategic threat analyses the US military has divided the world into several military “commands”.

When AFRICOM was established most African nations militated against the idea of a large US military presence in the continent. As a result the US was forced to headquarter AFRICOM in Stuttgart, Germany, where it remains.

But it appears the US military in the interim has been following a strategy of increasing its presence and/or influence in Africa by stealth, most notably so in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti. It has also recently strengthened its military collaborative relationships with countries like Botswana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali and Senegal, some of them having considerable oil deposits.

While the US has focused much of its military attention on Kenya because of its increased exposure to Islamic terrorism, and on the Horn of Africa and adjacent areas because of the various conflicts and security threats in that region, it has also steadily increased its presence and/or influence elsewhere on the continent. The US also has an interest in energy resources in the Horn of Africa, most notably in Djibouti while it is closely mitoring oil exploration in Ethiopia. The Horn of Africa is also very close to the rich oilfields of the Arabian Peninisula.

The bulk of the US African military presence – estimated at around 3,600 troops – is concentrated in the capital city of Djibouti as AFRICOM’s Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. These US troops are stationed in the US Naval Expeditionary Base at Camp Lemonnier, a former French Foreign Legion base. From this base the US military says it provides mostly humanitarian and developmental support in the region, but security and counter-terrorism objectives are also high on the agenda with the US task force regularly engaging in training and military exercises.

With Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh himself having been the target of terrorism in the past, he takes a proactive stance against terrorism which accommodates the US’ global strategy of “war on terrorism” nicely. It is from here that the US monitors and acts against terrorist organisations and operatives in the Horn of Africa, East Africa and especially Yemen, the latter located on the Arabian Peninsula just across a narrow strip of sea in the Gulf of Aden.

Trained by the Somali National Security Service and the French Secret Service, Guelleh became the head of his country’s security agency under his uncle’s regime and now rules with an iron fist, making use of a mixture of divide and rule tactics, intimidation and repression. Although a multi-party democracy in theory, Djibouti is pretty much a de facto one-party state where little opposition to the ruling regime is tolerated.

Djibouti’s geopolitical and security significance for the US is its close proximity to trouble spots in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, its good relations with Yemen, its close proximity to Arab oil resources, its strategic maritime location between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, and the availability of replenishment and operational facilities for US warships and airplanes, among other things.

The US maintains good relations with Yemen and has refrained from intervening in President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s bloody repression of a popular uprising against his rule since February this year. Yemen has an oil-based economy but is is anticipated that its oil reserves will be depleted by 2017, after which the US expects economic collapse and accompanying social upheavals.

Despite security threats to the US emanating from Yemen, President Obama and the US military have said they have no plans to send US forces to Yemen. Instead they are keeping them in Djibouti. But Yemen’s geopolitical significance regarding its oilfields and strategic maritime location, are keeping it within the US sphere of strategic interests and the Obama administration has increased military aid to the country, the same as it has done in Djibouti.

The decision to do so may have something to do with US oil interests and its strategic influence in the Arab world being threatened by popular uprisings in a number of Arab states, but probably also with the fact that China is trying hard to increase its influence and presence in this region on both sides of the Gulf of Aden.

The increased US military presence in and military aid to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya has also allowed the US military to effectively establish a ring of fire around Somalia where its main target is al-Shabab with its alleged al-Qaeda links.

Al-Shabab is fighting to overthrow the transitional government in Somalia and is listed as a terrorist organisation by the US, Britain, Australia and several other Western countries. It has training links with elements in Afghanistan, and has been responsible for a bloody terrorist attack in Kampala, Uganda, and also the frequent abduction of foreigners from Kenya, among other things.

The organisation has recently grown bolder in its activities, something that may have prompted greater US involvement in the region. The US has in the past targeted its leaders, with at least one prominent leader killed in a US missile attack on the Arabian Peninsula.

However, the US has not been successful in finding support from African nations for it to headquarter AFRICOM on African soil. Initially only Liberia showed some interest, while the US was hopeful at one stage that Ethiopia, together with Djibouti, would play host to AFRICOM. But those plans also fell through. Countries like Nigeria and South Africa voiced considerable opposition to a large US military on African soil.

The issue again made headlines recently when Julius Malema, the president of the youth wing of South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, said his organisation would work for regime change in neighbouring Botswana because Botswana was a “puppet of US imperialism”. Malema claimed the US was about to establish a military base there. Botswana strongly denied this and Malema was repudiated by the ANC and the South African government.

Although Botswana had been a contender to host AFRICOM some years ago, it decided against such a move. Malema may have based his claim on disinformation fed to him by Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF. Robert Mugabe’s party strongly dislikes the Botswana government of Ian Khama because the latter called for new elections in Zimbabwe after the disputed and violent elections of 2008. Khama has also been one of the most vocal African critics of Mugabe.

According to a secret US embassy cable recently published by Wikileaks, Botswana asked the US for military equipment in 2008 to arm itself against what it believed was an imminent military attack by Zimbabwe. However, the US decided against doing so because it would not serve its strategic and diplomatic interests in Southern Africa.

But General William E. Ward, until March the commander of AFRICOM, had also paid several visits to Botswana between then and 2011, ostensibly to beef up military cooperation in an effort to off-set any damage caused by turning down the weapons request.

While AFRICOM remains in Germany for now, the concentration of US forces, advisers and military training and aid in Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya has considerably strengthened its presence in the Horn/East Africa region – a region originally targeted by the US for its AFRICOM headquarters. Many defence and security analysts believe it is just a matter of time before the US realises its dream of basing AFRICOM on African soil, and most probably in this region.

A Congressional Research Service paper for members and committees of the US Congress dated July 22, 2011 says a decision will be reached next year regarding AFRICOM’s headquarters. In the meantime the US military has a presence in all five African regions.

US forces have access to Co-operative Security Locations, referred to as “lily pads” in military jargon, in Algeria, Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Namibia, Sao Tome, Sierra Leona, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.  According to the paper the US also has military ties with countries designated “areas of interest” and which apart from Kenya and Uganda include Burundi, Chad, Comoros, the DRC, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and, strangely enough, Yemen which is not part of Africa, although only about 50km across the Gulf of Aden.

Few people realize this, but AFRICOM itself has already engaged in warfare in the African continent, its jets having fired the first shots in Libya earlier this year before it handed over all military operations to NATO. The US is, of course, also eyeing Libya’s vast oil resources.

So, in the final analysis it would seem that the US is definitely engaged in expanding its military presence and influence across Africa – something China and India have not yet attempted. And the US is doing this in tandem with its covetous evaluation of access to Africa’s mineral resources and huge energy reserves. Seeking the same access, India and China however, by contrast, are going the trade and development route.

Stef Terblanche

Source

The son of Africa claims a continent’s crown jewels

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On 14 October, President Barack Obama announced he was sending United States special forces troops to Uganda to join the civil war there. In the next few months, U.S. combat troops will be sent to South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic. They will only “engage” for “self-defense”, says Obama, satirically. With Libya secured, an American invasion of the African continent is under way.

Obama’s decision is described in the press as “highly unusual” and “surprising”, even “weird”. It is none of these things. It is the logic of American foreign policy since 1945. Take Vietnam. The priority was to halt the influence of China, an imperial rival, and “protect” Indonesia, which President Nixon called “the region’s richest hoard of natural resources …the greatest prize”. Vietnam merely got in the way; and the slaughter of more than three million Vietnamese and the devastation and poisoning of their land was the price of America achieving its goal. Like all America’s subsequent invasions, a trail of blood from Latin America to Afghanistan and Iraq, the rationale was usually “self defense” or “humanitarian”, words long emptied of their dictionary meaning.

In Africa, says Obama, the “humanitarian mission” is to assist the government of Uganda defeat the Lord’s resistance Army (LRA), which “has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa”. This is an accurate description of the LRA, evoking multiple atrocities administered by the United States, such as the bloodbath in the 1960s following the CIA-arranged murder of Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese independence leader and first legally elected prime minister, and the CIA coup that installed Mobutu Sese Seko, regarded as Africa’s most venal tyrant.

Obama’s other justification also invites satire. This is the “national security of the United States”. The LRA has been doing its nasty work for 24 years, of minimal interest to the United States. Today, it has few than 400 fighters and has never been weaker. However, U.S. “national security” usually means buying a corrupt and thuggish regime that has something Washington wants. Uganda’s “president-for-life” Yoweri Museveni already receives the larger part of $45 million in U.S. military “aid” – including Obama’s favorite drones. This is his bribe to fight a proxy war against America’s latest phantom Islamic enemy, the rag-tag al Shabaab group based in Somalia. The RTA will play a public relations role, distracting western journalists with its perennial horror stories.

However, the main reason the U.S. is invading Africa is no different from that which ignited the Vietnam war. It is China. In the world of self-serving, institutionalized paranoia that justifies what General David Petraeus, the former U.S. commander and now CIA director, implies is a state of perpetual war, China is replacing al-Qaeda as the official American “threat”. When I interviewed Bryan Whitman, an assistant secretary of defense at the Pentagon last year, I asked him to describe the current danger to America. Struggling visibly, he repeated, “Asymmetric threats … asymmetric threats”. These justify the money-laundering state-sponsored arms conglomerates and the biggest military and war budget in history. With Osama bin Laden airbrushed, China takes the mantle.

Africa is China’s success story. Where the Americans bring drones and destabilization, the Chinese bring roads, bridges and dams. What they want is resources, especially fossil fuels. With Africa’s greatest oil reserves, Libya under Muammar Gaddafi was one of China’s most important sources of fuel. When the civil war broke out and NATO backed the “rebels” with a fabricated story about Gaddafi planning “genocide” in Benghazi, China evacuated its 30,000 workers in Libya. The subsequent UN security council resolution that allowed the west’s “humanitarian intervention” was explained succinctly in a proposal to the French government by the “rebel” National Transitional Council, disclosed last month in the newspaper Liberation, in which France was offered 35 per cent of Libya’s gross national oil production “in exchange” (the term used) for “total and permanent” French support for the NTC. Running up the Stars and Stripes in “liberated” Tripoli last month, U.S. ambassador Gene Cretz blurted out: “We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources!”

The de facto conquest of Libya by the U.S. and its imperial partners heralds a modern version of the “scramble for Africa” at the end of the 19th century.

Like the “victory” in Iraq, journalists have played a critical role in dividing Libyans into worthy and unworthy victims. A recent Guardian front page carried a photograph of a terrified “pro-Gaddafi” fighter and his wild-eyed captors who, says the caption, “celebrate”. According to General Petraeus, there is now a war “of perception … conducted continuously through the news media”.

For more than a decade the U.S. has tried to establish a command on the continent of Africa, AFRICOM, but has been rebuffed by governments, fearful of the regional tensions this would cause. Libya, and now Uganda, South Sudan and Congo, provide the main chance. As WikiLeaks cables and the U.S. National Strategy for Counter-terrorism reveal, American plans for Africa are part of a global design in which 60,000 special forces, including death squads, already operate in 75 countries, soon to be 120. As Dick Cheney pointed out in his 1990s “defense strategy” plan, America simply wishes to rule the world.

That this is now the gift of Barack Obama, the “Son of Africa”, is supremely ironic. Or is it? As Frantz Fanon explained in Black Skin, White Masks, what matters is not so much the color of your skin as the power you serve and the millions you betray.

John Pilger is an Australian journalist and documentary maker, based in London. He has twice won Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award, and his documentaries have received academy awards in Britain and the U.S.

by John Pilger

(WWW.Johnpilger.com)

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The US power grab in Africa

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By Pepe Escobar

Beware of strangers bearing gifts. Post-modern Amazon and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally landed in Tripoli – on a military jet – to lavish praise on the dodgy Transitional National Council (TNC), those pportunists/defectors/Islamists formerly known as “North Atlantic Treaty Organization rebels”.

Clinton was greeted on Tuesday “on the soil of free Libya” (her words) by what the New York Times quaintly described as an “irregular militia” (translation: a heavily armed gang that is already raising hell against other heavily armed gangs), before meeting TNC chairman Mustafa Abdel-NATO (formerly known as Jalil).

The bulk of the US gifts – US$40 million – on top of the $135 million already disbursed since February (most of it military “aid”) is for a missile scramble conducted by “contractors” (ie mercenaries) trying to track the tsunami of mobile anti-aircraft rockets that by now are already conveniently ensconced in secret Islamist warehouses.

Clinton told students at the University of Tripoli, “We are on your side.” She could not possibly connect the dots and note that the shabab (young people) who started demonstrating against Muammar Gaddafi in February have absolutely nothing to do with the TNC’s opportunists/defectors/Islamists who hijacked the protests. But she did have time to unveil another US foreign policy “secret” – that the US wants Gaddafi “dead or alive”, George W Bush-style (or as the beneficiary of targeted assassination, Barack Obama-style).

The new Fallujah
In her exhausting six-and-a-half hours on “free Libya” soil, Clinton couldn’t possibly find the time to hitch a helicopter ride to Sirte and see for herself how NATO is exercising R2P (“responsibility to protect” civilians).

A few hundred soldiers and no less than 80,000 civilians have been bombed for weeks by NATO and the former “rebels”. Only 20,000 civilians have managed to escape. There’s no food left. Water and electricity have been cut off. Hospitals are idle. The city – under siege – is in ruins. Sirte imams have issued a fatwa (decree) allowing survivors to eat cats and dogs.

What Gaddafi never did to Benghazi – and there’s no evidence he might have – the TNC is doing to Sirte, Gaddafi’s home town. Just like the murderous US offensive in Fallujah in the Iraqi Sunni triangle in late 2004, Sirte is being destroyed in order to “save it”. Sirte, the new Fallujah, is brought to you by NATO rebels. R2P, RIP.

It gets much nastier. Libya is just one angle of a multi-vector US strategy in Africa. Wacko presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann, during Tuesday’s Republican debate in Las Vegas, may have inadvertently nailed it. Displaying her geographical acumen as she referred to Obama’s new US intervention in Uganda, Bachmann said, “He put us in Libya. Now he’s putting us in Africa.” True, Libya is not in Africa anymore; as the counter-revolutionary House of Saud would want it, Libya has been relocated to Arabia (ideally as a restored monarchy).

As for Obama “putting us in Africa” (see Obama, King of Africa Asia Times Online, October 18, 2011), those 100 special forces in Uganda billed as “advisers” should be seen as a liquid modernity remix of Vietnam in the early 1960s; that also started with a bunch of “advisers” – and the rest is history.

Murderous mystic crackpot Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is now a rag-tag bunch of no more than 400 warriors (they used to be over 2,000). They are on the run – and not even based in Uganda, but in South Sudan (now a Western protectorate), the Central African Republic and the long border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

So why Uganda? Enter London-based Heritage Oil, and its chairman Tony Buckingham, a former – you guessed it – “contractor” (ie mercenary). Here’s Heritage’s modus operandi, described by Buckingham himself; they deploy “a first mover strategy of entering regions with vast hydrocarbon wealth where we have a strategic advantage”.

Translation: wherever there’s foreign invasion, civil war, total breakdown of social order, there are big bucks to be made. Thus Heritage’s presence in Iraq, Libya and Uganda.
Profiting from post-war fog, Heritage signed juicy deals in Iraqi Kurdistan behind the back of the central government in Baghdad. In Libya, Heritage bought a 51% stake in a local company called Sahara Oil Services; this means it’s now directly involved in operating oil and gas licenses. Pressed about it, TNC honchos have tried to change the conversation, alleging that nothing is approved yet.

What’s certain is that Heritage barged into Libya via a former SAS commando, John Holmes, founder of Erinys, one of the top mercenary outfits in Iraq apart from Xe Services, former Blackwater. Holmes cunningly shipped the right bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue Label to Benghazi for the right TNC crooks, seducing them with Heritage’s mercenary know-how of enforcing “oil field security”.

Got contractor, will travel
Obama’s Uganda surge is also a classic Pipelineistan gambit. The possibly “billions of barrels” of oil reserves discovered recently in sub-Saharan Africa are located in the sensitive cross-border of Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Believe it or not, Heritage was the top oil company in Uganda up to 2009, drilling on Lake Albert – between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – and playing one country against another. Then they sold their license to Tullow Oil, essentially a spin-off, also owned by Buckingham, bagging $1.5 billion in the process and crucially not paying 30% of profits to Washington’s bastard, the government of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Enter Libya’s state oil company, Tamoil, which was part of a joint venture with the Ugandans to build a crucial oil pipeline to Kenya; Uganda is landlocked, and badly needs the pipeline when oil exports start next year. The NATO war on Libya paralyzed the Pipelineistan gambit. Now everything is open for business again. Tamoil may be out of the picture – but so may be other players.

Trying to sort out the mess, the parliament in Uganda – slightly before Obama’s announcement – decided to freeze all oil contracts, hitting France’s Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, but especially Tullow oil.

But now, with Obama’s special forces “advising” not only Uganda but also the neighbors, and linking up with Heritage – which is essentially a huge oil/mercenary outfit – it’s not hard to fathom where Uganda’s oil contracts will eventually land.

The Amazon rules
Unified Protector, Odyssey Dawn and all other metaphors Homeric or otherwise for the Africom/NATO 40,000-plus bombing of Libya have yielded the desired result; the destruction of the Libyan state (and much of the country’s infrastructure, to the delight of disaster capitalism vultures). It also delivered the lethal unintended consequence of those anti-aircraft missiles appropriated by Islamists – a supremely convincing reason for the “war on terror” in northern Africa to become eternal.

Washington couldn’t care less about R2P; as the Libyan Clinton hop shows, the only thing that matters is the excuse to “securitize” Libya’s arsenal – the perfect cover story for US contractors and Anglo-French intel ops to take over Libyan military bases.

The iron rule is that “free” Libya should be under the control of the “liberators”. Tell that to the “irregular militias”, not to mention the Abdelhakim Belhaj gang and his al-Qaeda assets now in military control of Tripoli.

It’s useful to remember that last Friday, the same day the US State Department announced it was sending “contractors” to Libya, was the day Obama announced his Uganda surge. And only two days later, Kenya invaded Somalia – once again under the R2P excuse of protecting civilians from Somali jihadis and pirates.

The US adventure in Somalia looks increasingly like a mix of Sophocles and the Marx Brothers. First there was the Ethiopian invasion (it failed miserably). Then the thousands of Ugandan soldiers sent by Museveni to fight al-Shabaab (partially failed; after all the Washington-backed “government” barely controls a neighborhood in Mogadishu).

Now the Kenyan invasion. A measure of the Central Intelligence Agency’s brilliance is that operatives have been on the ground for months alongside bundles of mercenaries. Soon some counter-insurgency hotshot in Washington praying in the altar of new CIA head David Petraeus will conclude that the only solution is an army of MQ-9 Reapers to drone Somalia to death.

The big picture remains the Pentagon’s Africom spreading its militarized tentacles against the lure of Chinese soft power in Africa, which goes something like this: in exchange for oil and minerals, we build anything you want, and we don’t try to sell you “democracy for dummies”.

The Bush administration woke up to this “threat” a bit too late – at Africom’s birth in 2008. Under the Obama administration, the mood is total panic. For Petraeus, the only thing that matters is “the long war” on steroids – from boots on the ground to armies of drones; and who are the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department to disagree?

Italian geographer and political scientist Manlio Dinucci is one of the few to point out how neo-colonialism 2.0 works; one just needs to look at the map. In Central Africa, the objective is US military supremacy – on air and in intel – over Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Libya, the objective is to occupy an absolutely strategic crossroads between the Mediterranean, northern Africa and the Middle East, with the added (nostalgic?) benefit of the West – as in Paris, London and Washington – finally getting to hold military bases as when King Idris was in power (1951 to 1969). As a whole, control must be established over northern Africa, central Africa, eastern Africa and – more problematically – the Horn of Africa.

The trillion-dollar question ahead is how China – which plots strategic moves years in advance – is going to react. As for Amazon Clinton, she must be beaming. In Iraq, Washington meticulously destroyed a whole country over two long decades just to end up with nothing – not even a substantial oil contract. Clinton at least got a private army – the “advisers” who will be stationed in the bigger-than-the-Vatican US Embassy in Baghdad.
And considering that Obama’s new African “advisers” will be paid by the State Department, now Clinton’s also got her own African private army. After November 2012, Clinton might well consider a move into the contractor business. In the sacred name of R2P, naturally.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Obama’s Uganda Gambit to serve Soros

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Ed Lasky

Journalist Aaron Klein has an interesting take on Barack Obama‘s surprising decision to send troops into Uganda to battle a rebel army.  The genesis of the idea may have begun at the George Soros-funded International Crisis Group, one of the “think tanks” that Soros uses to promote policies that benefit him.  In this case, the ICG recommended last year that America deploy military forces to Uganda.  This move prompted questions since the rebel group did not pose a threat to American interests. But whose interests might be served by defeating the rebel group? George Soros — a major Obama backer.

Klein writes:

Soros himself has been closely tied to oil and other interests in Uganda.

In 2008, the Soros-funded Revenue Watch Institute brought together stakeholders from Uganda and other East African countries to discuss critical governance issues, including the formation of what became Uganda’s National Oil and Gas Policy.

Also in 2008, the Africa Institute for Energy Governance, a grantee of the Soros-funded Revenue Watch, helped established the Publish What You Pay Coalition of Uganda, or PWYP, which was purportedly launched to coordinate and streamline the efforts of the government in promoting transparency and accountability in the oil sector.

Also, a steering committee was formed for PWYP Uganda to develop an agenda for implementing the oil advocacy initiatives and a constitution to guide PWYP’s oil work.

PWYP has since 2006 hosted a number of training workshops in Uganda purportedly to promote contract transparency in Uganda’s oil sector.

PWYP is directly funded by Soros’ Open Society as well as the Soros-funded Revenue Watch Institute. PWYP international is actually hosted by the Open Society Foundation in London.

The billionaire’s Open Society Institute, meanwhile, runs numerous offices in Uganda. It maintains a country manager in Uganda, as well as the Open Society Initiative for East Africa, which supports work in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Soros seems to have his hand in trying to guide the development of the oil and gas industry in Uganda.  The Ugandan government would naturally be beholden to Soros if he could show he had enough influence with the White House to bring in American troops to take out a rebel group.  Also, the defeat of the rebel group would make development of the energy industry that much more viable since operations would be much more secure.

This strategy bears similarity with the story of InterOil, a major holding of George Soros, that has  been granted concessions for reportedly major natural gas reserves in Papua New Guinea.  The government there has recently been arguing with InterOil regarding that company’s ability to develop these reserves and build and operate a Liquefied Natural Gas port to export the gas.

What could friends of George Soros in the American government do to help him soothe the deal with the Papua New Guinea government? What the Obama administration did in fact do was send government experts all the way from here to there to help the nation develop its reserves. This was especially surprising since the Department of Interior has blamed its delay in issuing permits to develop our own domestic reserves on lack of manpower and funding — yet the administration found the manpower and money to export our experts do help develop New Guinea’s reserves. Or rather the reserves that InterOil and its major shareholder , George Soros, want developed courtesy of the American taxpayer.

Anyone see a pattern here? In one case, Obama sends military forces to Uganda — a nation where Soros has been active in trying to help it formulate a policy to tap its oil wealth.  But before the policies could be put in place, a rebel group needs to be vanquished.  In the other case, Obama sends American government experts to help another nation to develop its natural gas wealth when the one company ideally positioned to benefit from this taxpayer-funded development has as its major shareholder none other than George Soros.

Soros declared his own modus operandi when he said in a 2004 New Yorker profile that there are “symbiotic moments between political and business interests.”  He is a master at finding these moments and promoting the political careers of those who will do his bidding.

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