Oil blocks, Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea

So far we have not seen much sign of the supposedly “humanitarian” side of Africom. We have have already seen plenty of militarization. This little tidbit about the “thinking” behind Africom should send shivers down the spine of anyone from Africa, or anyone who cares about Africa.

Bush Administration Africa policy flows almost directly from recommendations from two right-wing Washington think tanks: the Heritage Foundation that came up with the idea of an African command and the American Enterprise Institute. (The latter would appear to be working to increase its clout by recently adding to its staff former – briefly – World Bank director, neo-conservative, and Iraq war promoter, Paul Wolfowitz, who says his principle interest these days is Africa.)
. . .

Nii Akuetteh, the executive director of Washington-based Africa Action, said Africom “has nothing to do with African interests and programs; its access to oil and the ‘war on terror’.” Akuetteh, a former Adjunct Professor at Georgetown’s University’s School of Foreign Service and one time Research and Education Director of the advocacy group TransAfrica, told me he is of two minds about the appointment of General Ward. “He must be someone of considerable competence to have risen to where he is, given the persistence of racism, and that is a good thing. What bothers me is the concept of Africom itself; I don’t like it. Beyond all the talk about bureaucratic reorganization the real fear must be over the threat of increased militarization of sub-Saharan Africa. If you read the details you will see that that’s pretty much what it is.”

Akuetteh says although some African governments may have welcomed the idea, civil groups in most of Africa and people in the U.S. concerned with U.S. policy toward the continent, “ are all of one mind: we don’t like it.”

Bill Fletcher Jr., BC Editorial Board Member and former President of TransAfrica, said, “It is ludicrous to think that setting up Africom has anything to do with fighting terrorism. It is a dangerous notion.” The real motivation, he says, is to protect America’s oil interests in Africa.
. . .
TransAfrica argues that “While the Bush administration claims this development will build partnerships with African governments that will lead to ‘greater peace and security to the people of Africa’ nothing could be further from the truth. This newest incursion follows a pattern of extraction of minerals and aiding factions in some of Africa’s most bloody conflicts: thus further destabilizing the continent. This operation will strengthen the US military’s presence in the Gulf of Guinea, to aid oil extraction processes and will work to further militarize the Horn of Africa in support of the administration’s ‘war on terror.’ US troops are already on the Horn of Africa carrying out operations within Somalia and on its border with Kenya.”

There is still no sign of addressing the problems of the people who live where the oil is being extracted. And there is no mention of any steps being taken so that they receive a fair share of their oil wealth. So much for “humanitarian”.

And now NATO is ramping up military activity in the Niger Delta. b real posted this information in a comment in the previous post. It is significant enough to repeat here:

b real said…

here’s something to add – they’ve finally announced which ships are involved in some of the gulf of guinea maneuvers

july 24: NATO takes steps to demonstrate interest in N/Delta
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has deployed six warships to orbit Africa in what is seen as a show of force and a demonstration that the world powers are closely monitoring the worsening security situation in the Niger Delta.

The multinational force comprising six ships from six different NATO nations, Canada, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal and the United States are scheduled to embark on a historic 12,500 nautical mile circumnavigation of Africa on a two month deployment from August to October this year as part of NATO’s commitment to global security.

Coming soon after the Bush Administration announced the creation of a new unified [combatant] command, Africa Command (AFRICOM) to promote U.S. national security objectives in Africa, the NATO move is already being seen as the deepening of the West’s scramble for Africa in the bid to checkmate China’s growing diplomatic and economic influence in the continent. The world’s most populous country and Asia’s emerging economic giant has recently been exerting escalating economic sway especially in the sub-region’s energy sector where it has invested heavily in Nigerian and Sudanese oil fields. Analysts see Chinese mounting influence in a sphere formerly controlled by the West exclusively as a threat to Europe and America both of which are looking at the West African Coast for their energy needs in view of the increasing volatility of the Middle East.

By August 4, NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1), one of NATO’s four standing maritime forces, will sail from the Mediterranean to the west coast of Africa and the Niger Delta.

most links i’ve been trying to follow to SNMG1 are no longer functional. looks like the u.s. navy took command of SNMG1 from canada back on january 26.

a cached press release states that to force will consist of “one cruiser, four frigates and a tanker.”

the listed ships are:
USS Normandy – “The flagship of SNMG1, the USS Normandy is a guided missile Ticonderoga class cruiser. She is a multi mission anti-air, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare ship with a distinguished history of active service particularly in the Gulf and off the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. She has the Aegis Weapon System, Tomahawk, two 5-inch guns and can operate two Seahawk helicopter.”

HTLMS Evertsen – “HNLMS Evertsen is a state of the art air defence and command frigate of the Zeven Provinciën class, Royal Netherlands Navy. Her stealth like construction makes her less detectable by radar. She is equipped with an impressive sensor array combined with the Standard Missile, Sea Sparrow, Harpoon, 127 mm main gun, torpedo weapon systems and an NH 90 size Helicopter.”

HMCS Toronto – “The Canadian Halifax Class multi-role patrol frigate HMCS Toronto has an impressive range of tactical and defensive weapons including the Harpoon anti ship and Sea Sparrow anti-aircraft missile systems, a 57 mm gun and anti-submarine Sea King helicopter. She has taken part in Operation Active Endeavour (OAE) in the Mediterranean and in Hurricane Katrina relief operations.”

NRP Alvaras Cabral – “one of the major ships of the Portuguese Navy. She is a Vasco de Gama Class frigate fitted with Harpoon, Sea Sparrow, Torpedo systems and a large flight deck and hangar to operate two Lynx helicopters. Portugal regularly contributes to the Standing NATO Maritime Forces and has long standing historical links with Africa.”

HDMS Olfert Fischer – “The Royal Danish Navy Niels Juel Class corvette, HDMS Olfert Fischer, has been a regular participant in Standing Naval Force Atlantic since 1992. She has served in the Gulf War and Iraq and is fitted with Harpoon, Sea Sparrow and a 76 mm gun”

FGS Spessart – “The German Navy Rhone Class Replenishment Tanker, FGS Spessart will support SNMG1 throughout the deployment, ensuring that the Force has sufficient fuel and provisions to sustain operations far from home for long periods of time. She has a displacement of 10,800 tonnes and is 427 ft long.”

“The Africa 2007 deployment will include conducting ‘presence operations’ in the Gulf of Guinea, a region that has seen many incidents in recent months of attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta and kidnapping of oil workers. During this phase the NATO force will be in a position to make a difference to security in the region, deterring criminal groups and enabling NATO maritime commanders to compile a picture of maritime activity in the area.”

“SNMG1 will conduct surveillance and ‘presence operations’ in the Gulf of Guinea and off the Horn of Africa passing information back to the two NATO Surveillance Coordination Centres (SCCs) at Northwood in the UK and Naples in Italy.”