Mmegi Blogs :: US secret war inside “shithole” Africa
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Last Updated
Friday 21 September 2018, 15:09 pm.
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US secret war inside “shithole” Africa

This past week there was a global outrage over US president Donald Trump’s atrocious remarks in a private meeting where he is alleged to have uttered what many people all over the world label as racist remarks that Haiti, El Salvadore and the African continent are “shitholes”.
By Solly Rakgomo Fri 26 Jan 2018, 18:59 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: US secret war inside “shithole” Africa








Behind these anti- immigration remarks by Trump, many people all over the world are unaware that there is a real, but largely concealed war which is taking place throughout the African continent. It involves the United States, an invigorated Russia and a rising China. The outcome of the war is likely to define the future of the continent and its global outlook.

It is easy to pin the blame on US President Donald Trump, his erratic agenda and impulsive statements. But the truth is, the current US military expansion in Africa is just another step in the wrong direction. It is part of a strategy that had been implemented a decade ago, during the administration of President George W. Bush, and actively pursued by President Barack Obama.

In 2007, under the pretext of the ‘war on terror’, the US consolidated its various military operations in Africa to establish the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM). With a starting budget of half-a-billion dollars, AFRICOM was supposedly launched to engage with African countries in terms of diplomacy and aid. But, over the course of the last 10 years, AFRICOM has been transformed into a central command for military incursions and interventions.

However, that violent role has rapidly worsened during the first year of Trump’s term in office. Indeed, there is a hidden US war in Africa, and it is fought in the name of ‘counter-terrorism’. US troops are now conducting 3,500 exercises and military engagements throughout Africa per year, an average of 10 per day.

US mainstream media rarely discusses this ongoing war, thus giving the military ample space to destabilise any of the continent’s 54 countries as it pleases.

“Today’s figure of 3,500 marks an astounding 1,900% increase since the command was activated less than a decade ago, and suggests a major expansion of US military activities on the African continent,” VICE Newspaper reported.

Following the death of four US Special Forces soldiers in Niger late 2017, US Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, made an ominous statement that these numbers are likely to increase as the US is expanding its military activities in Africa.

Mattis, like other defence officials in the previous two administrations, justifies the US military transgressions as part of ongoing ‘counter-terrorism’ efforts. But such coded reference has served as a pretence for the US to intervene in, and exploit, a massive region with a great economic potential.

The old colonial ‘Scramble for Africa’ is being reinvented by global powers that fully fathom the extent of the untapped economic largesse of the continent. While China, India and Russia are each developing a unique approach to wooing Africa, the US is invested mostly in the military option, which promises to inflict untold harm and destabilise many nations. 

The 2012 coup in Mali, carried out by a US-trained army captain, Amadou Haya Sanogo, is only one example. In a 2013 speech, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautioned against

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a “new colonialism in Africa, in which it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave.” While Clinton is, of course, correct, she was disingenuously referring to China, not her own country. China’s increasing influence in Africa is obvious, and Beijing’s practices can be unfair.

However, China’s policy towards Africa is far more civil and trade-focused than the military-centered US approach. The growth in the China-Africa trade is coupled with many initiatives, entailing many billions of dollars in Chinese credit to  African countries to develop badly needed infrastructure. It should come as no surprise, then, that China surpassed the US as Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009.

The real colonialism, which Clinton referred to in her speech, is, however, underway in the US’s own perception and behavior towards Africa. This is not a hyperbole but in fact, a statement that echoes the words of US President Trump himself. 

Last September at the UN, Trump spoke to some African leaders with the kind of mindset that inspired western leaders’ colonial approach to Africa for centuries. Keeping in mind that Africa has 22 Muslim majority countries, the US government is divesting from any long-term diplomatic vision in Africa, and is, instead increasingly thrusting further into the military path.

The US military push does not seem to be part of a comprehensive policy approach, either. It is as alarming as it is erratic, reflecting the US constant over-reliance on military solutions to all sorts of problems, including trade and political rivalries. Compare this to Russia’s strategic approach to Africa.

Reigniting old camaraderie with the continent, Russia is following China’s strategy of engagement through development and favourable trade terms. But, unlike China, Russia has a wide-ranging agenda that includes arms exports, which are replacing US weaponry in various parts of the continent. For Moscow, Africa also has untapped and tremendous potential as a political partner that can bolster Russia’s standing at the UN.

Aware of the evident global competition, some African leaders are now labouring to find new allies outside the traditional western framework, which has controlled much of Africa since the end of traditional colonialism decades ago. A stark example was the late November visit by Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir to Russia and his high-level meeting with President Vladimir Putin.  Wary of Russia’s Africa outreach, the US is fighting back with a military stratagem and little diplomacy.

The ongoing US mini-war on the continent will push the continent further into the abyss of violence and corruption, which may suit Washington well, but will bring about untold misery to millions of people. There is no question that Africa is no longer an exclusive western ‘turf’, to be exploited at will. But it will be many years before Africa and its 54 nations are truly free from the stubborn neocolonial mindset, which is grounded in racism, economic exploitation and military intervention.

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