Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, was interviewed on Press TV News Analysis program on the escalation of tensions between Israel, Gaza and Egypt. The program aired originally on August 19, 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
U.S. Deploys Special Forces,
Military “Advisors” to Eastern and Central Africa
Under the guise of capturing rebel leader, Pentagon seeks deeper penetration of resource-rich region
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
There is another U.S. military intervention underway this time in Eastern and Central Africa. The Obama administration announced on October 14 that 100 military advisors and Special Forces troops are being deployed to four countries: Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to the White House the purpose of this mission is to capture or kill Joseph Kony, the leader of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which has been carrying out a war against the Ugandan government for over two decades. Members of the organization have also set up camps in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, which recently gained its independence from the central government of Sudan based in Khartoum.
This announcement comes in the immediate aftermath of the Pentagon intervention in the North African state of Libya earlier this year. In February the U.S. and other imperialist states supported a rebellion and eventual civil war against the government of Muammar Gaddafi.
After the initial failure of the National Transitional Council (NTC) opposition rebels to take control of Libya, the U.S., along with other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries, began a naval blockade and aerial bombing campaign against this oil-producing state. Over 20,000 sorties and approximately 9,500 airstrikes have been carried out against Libya which has a population of six million people.
The NTC rebels entered Tripoli in late August and proclaimed victory although resistance remains fierce against the NATO-led rebels in several areas of the western, central and southern areas of the country, including the capital. This time the U.S. is using the atrocities committed by the LRA as a pretext for military intervention.
What’s At Stake In Eastern and Central Africa
Although the corporate media reports have made it appear that there are no strategic interests in Eastern and Central Africa for the ruling class inside the United States, this could not be further from the truth. In Uganda, where these military units will be based, the government of President Yoweri Museveni has been a longtime ally of successive U.S. administrations.
Oil has recently been discovered in Uganda and there are already internal investigations into allegations of corruption involving government officials and transnational corporations seeking to exploit the vast petroleum resources. Uganda has been the recipient of military assistance and political support from the U.S. for many years.
In providing political cover for this intervention, the corporate media has claimed that the absence of strategic interests in Uganda does not provide an economic incentive for an invasion. In an article published by the National Post, it says that “Whenever critics of American foreign policy denounce the Iraq war or even the Afghan campaign, there typically is a casual insinuation that these are colonial or quasi-colonial undertakings aimed at stripping the local nation of its resources.” (National Post, October 17)
This same article continues claiming that “Yet the truth is that most interventions, including those in Haiti and Kosovo, involve parts of the world that have little strategic or mercantile value. Uganda is a perfect example: This is not a war for oil, or diamonds, or any other commodity. It is a mission to fight human suffering.”
Nonetheless, an ad-hoc parliamentary committee and the Anti-Corruption Court in Uganda are investigating three cabinet members for allegedly taking bribes from Tullow Oil Corporation which is involved in the exploitation of the country’s petroleum resources. Business Week reports that “Tullow Oil allegedly paid bribes to the tune of US$100 million to officials to influence decisions.” (Business Week, October 17)
Although the three cabinet ministers in Museveni’s government, along with Tullow, claim that the documents related to the inquiry were forged, there are other Ugandan officials who support the investigation. The two journalists writing for Business Week say that “The parliamentary session was called to remove suspicions concerning the oil sharing agreements between Uganda and Tullow.”
There has been much discussion within the Ugandan Parliament over a petroleum bill that would set guidelines for the development of the oil industry. It has been estimated that Tullow’s involvement in the country could result in US$10 billion in investments.
The Ugandan government has worked on behalf of U.S. military interests in East and Central Africa for many years. In 1998, the Clinton administration waged a proxy war against the Laurent Kabila government in the DRC by financing and coordinating the military invasion of the country, along with Rwanda. This invasion, which compelled the Southern African Development Community (SADC) states of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia to intervene in defense of the DRC, resulted in the deaths of numerous people throughout the region until a ceasefire was reached in 2003.
Since 2003, the situation in eastern DRC has been tense and unstable. Greater cooperation exist today between the various countries in Central, East and Southern Africa, however, the vast reservoir of strategic minerals in the eastern DRC remains a source of conflict between rebel groups and the central government based in Kinshasha.
The DRC is the world’s largest producer of Cobalt. It is also a major producer of copper and industrial diamonds and contains 70 percent of the world’s supply of coltan and 30 percent of the diamond reserves internationally.
South Sudan became an independent state in July after a two-decade civil war with the government in Khartoum. Sudan is one of the emerging oil-rich states producing 500,000 barrels per day. The oil concessions in Sudan were largely in partnership with the People’s Republic of China and other Asian and Middle Eastern states.
Since the succession of South Sudan, where 80 percent of the country’s untapped oil deposits exist, the region is open to greater penetration by western-based oil firms in the United States and Europe. The U.S. was a major proponent of splitting off South Sudan from the central government as well as supporting the successionist rebel movements in the western region of Darfur.
The Central African Republic (CAR) is largely a producer of agricultural commodities for export including cassava, peanuts, maize, sorghum, millet, sesame and plantain. It is also a producer of diamonds which account for over 50 percent of the country’s export earnings, although most of the gems are traded clandestinely.
In recent years the largest import partners for the CAR have been South Korea, France--the former colonial power—and Japan. In 2004, when the government of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide was overthrown by the U.S., France and Canada, it was in the CAR where the deposed head-of-state was initially re-located, until he was granted political asylum in the Republic of South Africa under the-then African National Congress (ANC) President Thabo Mbeki.
There Is No Such Thing As A “Humanitarian” Imperialist War
The imperialists and their allies have once again praised this intervention as a “humanitarian mission” as they did in regard to Libya. The purportedly “human rights” organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW), has enthusiastically endorsed the deployment of U.S. troops as a means to help African civilians suffering as a result of the crimes committed by the LRA rebels.
Even though the LRA is not a progressive organization and has carried out crimes against civilians in Uganda and other neighboring states, this cannot be utilized to justify even deeper penetration of the continent by the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Inevitably the same workers, farmers and youth who the imperialists say they are there to assist will ultimately be the victims of the Pentagon’s actions inside this region.
These wars of aggression that are ongoing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Palestine are being escalated to not only tighten the grip of imperialism over Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, but to also deflect attention away from the worst economic crisis that has hit the world capitalist states since the Great Depression. The resistance by the people of these various states under the heel of U.S. military forces is escalating as the resources of the working classes in these imperialist states are wasted rather than being utilized for the social benefit of the majority of the people within society.
The expanding intervention of U.S. imperialism must be opposed strongly within the mass demonstrations and occupations now sweeping North America and other capitalist states in Europe and Asia. Imperialist war derives from capitalist relations of production and will only be defeated when the exploitative system is overthrown by the workers and oppressed throughout the world.