AFRICOM To Expand Its Role On Continent

Libya mission portends much for African Union member-states


Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

This year’s 66th General Assembly of the United Nations took place within the context of the worsening security and economic situation internationally where the western industrialized capitalist states have escalated their military aggression amid the deteriorating social conditions among billions throughout the world. With the United States government still projecting the posture of the sole global superpower, the majority of countries attending the gathering could not be satisfied with its outcome.

Various speeches before the General Assembly addressed the disproportionate power of the imperialist states of North America and Western Europe within the Security Council of the UN. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe noted that Africa was the only region of the world not represented as a permanent member of the highest organ within the world body.

With the U.S.-NATO war against Libya entering a new phase, the states involved in waging military aggression and regime-change on this oil-producing North African country repeatedly congratulated themselves for overthrowing a sovereign government that was both a member of the United Nations and the African Union. The war to topple the Muammar Gaddafi government in Libya represented the first military mission of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) which was established in 2008 to specifically advance the strategic interests of both Washington and Wall Street.

The recognition of the National Transitional Council (NTC) rebel government by the UN was announced even though the war for the control of Libya still rages on. In the cities of Bani Walid, Sirte, Sabha and other areas of the west and central regions of the country the loyalist forces are formidably resisting the onslaught of imperialism and its agents.

Perhaps indicating the opening of a new front in Libya, a border attack by loyalist forces took place against the NATO-led rebels on the border with neighboring Algeria. Also there have been reports of military operations against the TNC rebels in the capital of Tripoli which has been under their control for a month.

President Mugabe stated in his address to the General Assembly that the NATO war against Libya and the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) indictments against the leadership of that country represents the hypocrisy of the West. The Zimbabwe head-of-state said that “The leaders of the powerful western states guilty of international crime, like Bush and Blair, are routinely given the blind eye. Such selective justice has eroded the credibility of the ICC on the African continent.” (presstv.ir)

Zimbabwe, which has been subjected to economic sanctions and other destabilization efforts by the U.S., Britain and the European Union for over a decade, has been a staunch critic of the imperialist war waged against Libya. During his General Assembly speech, Mugabe condemned the false pretence under which the U.S. and NATO have waged wars of aggression for the last decade.

Mugabe noted that “Yesterday it was Iraq and Bush and Blair were the liars and aggressors as they made unfounded allegations of possession of weapons of mass destruction. This time it is the NATO countries, the liars and aggressors as they make similarly unfounded allegations of destruction of civilian lives by Gaddafi.”

African Union and the Libyan War

During this General Assembly session in New York the U.S. and other NATO countries were pressuring the African Union to recognize the National Transitional Council (NTC) yet-to-be-formed rebel provisional government in Libya. The AU has opposed the civil war and the U.S.-NATO military intervention in the North African state.

Since March 11 the AU has called for a negotiated settlement to the conflict inside the country and the protection of African migrant workers who have been subjected to murderous attacks by the NTC rebels. Although some AU member-states have stated that they recognize the NTC rebels, others have maintained that these rebels should not be given a seat within the continental body of 54 member-states.

Reports within the corporate media stated that the AU had recognized the NTC during the course of the General Assembly proceedings. However, Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, said of the results of AU closed-door meetings during the General Assembly, that “The position is that the NTC is required to set up an inclusive government before they can occupy an AU seat.” (Zimbabwe Herald, September 23)

Mumbengegwi also said that “Some countries (within the AU Peace and Security Council) were in favor of the NTC getting a seat, saying the General Assembly had voted to give them a seat, so the AU must follow suit. We, in turn, said there should be an inclusive government to ensure peace and stability in Libya and that the AU does not want chaos. Once we grant them recognition now, the African Union will not have leverage to get them to form an inclusive government.”

According to the Zimbabwe Herald, “Comrade Mumbengegwi said AU chairman, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s (Equatorial Guinea) statement on Libya in his address to the UN General Assembly was read ambiguously. ‘Some are saying the AU recognizes the NTC, but we read it to mean the AU recognizes the NTC as they set up an inclusive government.’”

Nevertheless, the recognition or non-recognition of the NTC by the AU and the UN will not fundamentally change the situation on the ground within Libya where the rebels have consistently failed to form a viable provisional government. These deliberations will only serve as a distraction from the increasing role of U.S. imperialism and other NATO states in the internal affairs of the African continent.

The Pentagon and the White House have identified North Africa and West Africa as a major theater of military operations designed to secure imperialist interests related to oil, natural gas, and the strategic minerals and waterways in and around the continent. AFRICOM Commander Gen. Carter Ham has identified al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb, the Somalia-based al-Shabaab and Boko Haram in Nigeria as “significant threats” to the region and the U.S.

Gen. Ham was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that “Those three organizations have very explicitly and publicly voiced an intent to target Westerners and the U.S. specifically. I have questions about their ability to do so; I have no question about their intent to do so, and that to me is very worrying.” (AP, September 14)

With specific reference to Libya, Ham stressed that “There was great support from NATO nations for basing and overflight and, in many cases, contributions of forces. It was a great international effort, and there is something to be learned from that.”

While identifying organizations that will be under attack by the Pentagon, the White House has approved the wider deployment of Predator and Reaper drones which will be stationed in Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, an unnamed Arab country and the Indian Ocean islands nation of Seychelles. According to the Vancouver Sun, “The New American Foundation keeps track of drone attacks. It reckons there were 33 in 2008 when Obama came into office, compared with nearly 120 last year.” (Vancouver Sun, September 23)

Although these unmanned drones are purportedly designed to engage in targeted assassinations of those identified as terrorists by the U.S., the strategic interests of Wall Street lies at the heart of this escalation of militarism toward Africa. As Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said at a National Harbor, Maryland conference on September 19, “America gets approximately 18 percent of all of its hydrocarbons imports and the majority of other fuel sources from Africa.” (The Hill, September 22)

Carson went on to stress that “Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, supplies close to 8 percent of all the U.S. imports—a figure that’s equivalent to what we get from Saudi Arabia. “ He also pointed out that over the next ten years Africa is projected to provide 25 percent of the oil and natural gas the U.S. imports annually.

This State Department official proclaimed that “What happens in Africa affects the United States and the entire international community. For all these reasons and more, President Obama has made Africa one of our top foreign policy priorities.”

Africa and Imperialist War

In addition to Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Colombia, Yemen and Bahrain, the U.S. will also escalate its military involvement in Africa. Consequently, the anti-war movement in North America will be forced to seriously challenge the role of imperialism on the continent.

The U.S.-NATO intervention in Libya is designed to subvert the potential of the African Revolution to successfully challenge the ongoing dominance of the imperialist states over the mineral resources and waterways of the continent. Although these acts of militarism are carried out under the guise of human rights and the protection of civilians, these operations in effect create the conditions for gross crimes against humanity and greater economic exploitation and national oppression.

During the recent General Assembly meeting in New York, the U.S. carried out perhaps the highest-profiled state execution in its history. This legal lynching of an African American, Troy Davis, whose innocence was proclaimed by millions across the world, illustrates the blatant disregard for human and civil rights inside the U.S. itself.

As demonstrators in Ghana illustrated on September 21, the 102nd birthday of the late President Kwame Nkrumah, the U.S. has nothing to offer the African continent in the arena of human rights. This demonstration that was co-sponsored by the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP), both founded by Kwame Nkrumah, and the Pan-African Improvement Organization, resulted in the arrest of 25 people who sought to march on the U.S. embassy in the capital of Accra in opposition to the NATO war against Libya.

In a press release issued by these three organizations in the aftermath of the arrest of their comrades by the Ghana security forces on September 21, they quote Kwame Nkrumah who said that “The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.”


Abayomi Azikiwe
is the editor of Pan-African News Wire , an international electronic press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world. The press agency was founded in January of 1998 and has published thousands of articles and dispatches in newspapers, magazines, journals, research reports, blogs and websites throughout the world. The PANW represents the only daily international news source on pan-african and global affairs. To contact him, click on this link >>
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