Monday, May 31, 2010

U.S. Imperialism Announces New Covert Action Plan in Africa

U.S. Imperialism Announces New Covert Action Initiative in Africa

More interference planned in the internal affairs of the continent

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Recent international press reports indicate that the U.S. military has started a renewed covert action plan to send special operations commandos into areas of the Horn of Africa, the Middle-East and Asia. The objective of the covert action policy is in part to carry out targeted assassinations against people considered enemies of the United States.

The secret directive was issued and signed in September 2009 by Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of the U.S. Military Central Command. The seven-page document has been described as both the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Executive Order as well as the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order.

Even though the reports claim that the Task Force will go after al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the Order will target areas in the Horn of Africa where resistance forces are operating against U.S.-backed regimes in Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti. In Somalia, the fragile Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has received substantial financial and military assistance from the U.S. administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

In a New York Times article published on May 24, Mark Mazzetti reported that “While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said. Its goals are to build networks that could 'penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy' Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to 'prepare the environment' for future attacks by American or local military forces, the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries.” (New York Times, May 24)

This recent revelation related to U.S. covert operations seems to designate to the Pentagon tasks which were previously carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA has voiced no opposition to the Petraeus order which continues the pattern of covert operations such as drone attacks and other forms of targeted assassinations against those considered enemies of the United States.

According to the document quoted in the New York Times, “The order from Central Command is focused on gathering intelligence in the target countries ‘by American troops, foreign businesspeople, academics or others, ‘to pinpoint threats, identify militants and forge persistent situational awareness’.” (Associated Press, May 25)

This document confirms the increasing aggressive military and intelligence operations on the part of the Obama administration. The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) has received additional funding under Obama while increased military maneuvers and joint operations have been carried out in West Africa and off shore in the Gulf of Guinea.

U.S. foreign policy in Africa has targeted Somalia in order to prevent the resistance forces of Hizbul Islam and Al-Shabab from taking power from the U.S.-backed TFG. Also the neighboring Ethiopian government of Meles Zenawi has been closely allied with the U.S. and receives significant military assistance from Washington.

In Djibouti both France and the U.S. maintain military bases inside the country. Off shore in the Gulf of Aden, the U.S., the European Union and other states have flotillas of warships designed to prevent attacks on vessels flowing through one of most lucrative shipping lanes in the world.

Other states targeted for U.S. covert operations include Sudan in central Africa where the government has come under pressure for its efforts to quell a rebel insurgency in the western region of Darfur. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued warrants for the arrests of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and other leading government officials.

Even though the United States is not party to the ICC, the foreign policy of the Obama administration and the European Union is designed to bring about regime-change in Sudan. An internationally-supervised election in Sudan during April that resulted in the victory of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), did not halt the efforts to undermine this African state.

In the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, the United States has continued its plans to topple President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) from the national unity government that has included the western-backed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T and MDC-M) political factions. Economic sanctions remain against Zimbabwe and a recent diplomatic assault by U.S. Undersecretary for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, resulted in a rebuke by the Zimbabwean Ambassador to the United States. (Zimbabwe Herald, May 26)

In Nigeria, the Obama administration has placed nationals from the oil-producing West African state on a list that requires special scrutiny at airports for flights bound for the United States. In a recent statement, the U.S. made demands on how the electoral commission should be structured inside Nigeria saying that preparations for national elections were not moving fast enough. (News Agency of Nigeria, May 31)

Such actions by the United States illustrates clearly that this imperialist state is stepping up its efforts to further control the internal affairs of various African states as well as influence and dominate developments in the Middle-East and Central Asia as mandated by the Joint Unconventional Warfare Taskforce.

A History of U.S. Covert Operations in Africa

Covert action aimed at influencing events in Africa has been a hallmark of U.S. foreign policy towards the continent. In areas where there was a perceived threat of genuine political independence and a movement towards socialism, the United States has utilized the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon, the State Department and other organs of the imperialist state to undermine sovereignty and national development.

In Congo during 1960 the Eisenhower administration plotted to isolate, overthrow and assassinate Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. These covert action plans against Lumumba were revealed during Congressional hearings held in 1975 that resulted in the formation of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Idaho Democratic Senator, Frank Church.

One former National Security staffer, Robert Johnson, testified at these hearings about a high level meeting between President Eisenhower and top ranking intelligence officers in 1960 where a decision was made to assassinate Patrice Lumumba. As a result of Lumumba’s assassination and other destabilization activities, the country has never been able to achieve genuine national independence over a period of five decades. (The Congo Cables, Madelaine Kalb, 1982, p. 54)

In February 1966, the revolutionary and socialist-oriented government of President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was overthrown by lower-ranking officers of the military and the police. The operation was influenced and coordinated by the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

After Nkrumah published his book “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism” in 1965, a formal protest was launched by the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, former Michigan Governor G. Mennen Williams. In a cable delivered to the then Ghanaian Ambassador to the United States, Miguel Augustus Ribeiro, it stated that “The United States has noted with profound alarm the attacks against the United States in President Nkrumah’s book…. The book appears to have been designed for the specific purpose of creating in the minds of its readers suspicion and distrust of the motives, intentions and actions of the United States. (Kwame Nkrumah, Revolutionary Path, 1973, pp. 310-311)

In 1969, the U.S. administration under Richard Nixon issued the National Security Study Memorandum No. 39 which was designed to rationalize an escalation of support for Portuguese colonial rule in Africa as well as to fortify the political and economic positions of white settler-colonial regimes then operating in Rhodesia, South-West Africa and South Africa. When the South African Defense Forces intervened in Angola to stop the consolidation of power by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the U.S. worked in collaboration with the SADF through the CIA and private mercenaries.

It was this set of circumstances that prompted the Cuban internationalists coming to the aid of the MPLA and other fraternal African states and liberation movements resulting in the defeat of the SADF over the period between 1975-1988. The United States has never supported any genuine liberation movement in Africa or in other regions of the world.

Anti-Imperialist Must Oppose Covert Action

The adoption of this new covert action initiative on the part of the Pentagon must be opposed by anti-war and anti-imperialist groups inside the United States. These practices will ultimately lead to the deaths of many nationals from the states targeted and the stifling of oppressed and colonial peoples right to self-determination.

Although in 2010 the focus of attention for U.S. imperialism is what they call “Islamic extremism or terrorism,” the ultimate objectives of this interference in the internal affairs of African states and other geo-political regions is the same as it was during the 1960s through the 1980s and that is to ensure the political and economic dominance of world capitalism over the resources of the planet.

People inside the U.S. and other imperialist countries must demonstrate their principled solidarity by opposing these military operations. Anti-Imperialists must also advance the right of all oppressed people to independence and sovereignty.

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