January 2008

from the Daily Nation

Over at Moon of Alabama b real has an excellent writeup of the post electoral Coup in Kenya – Part 1. I recommend you go and read it. In addition to the article, the comments have continued all week, and contain a lot of valuable information and observations, including some from David Barouski who has covered that part of the continent in depth, and for some time. Included is Kibaki’s visit to Uganda, and his use of Ugandan troops against Kenyan citizens to hold his coup in power.

You may also want to take a look at the remarks by Immanuel Wallerstein: “Kenya: Stable Democracy or Meltdown?”

US AC130 gunship which bombed Somali territory (January 2007) purportedly in pursuit of “terrorists”. The attacks represent an escalation of American aggression in the Horn of Africa.The United States proxy war against Somalia has escalated with the massacre of civilians by AC130 gunships. The resistance to American intervention in Somalia is growing despite the presence of thousands of western-backed Ethiopian troops which invaded the country.

The National Conference of Black Lawyers has just published a position paper on AFRICOM, written up in the pan-african news wire:

The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) concludes that the mission of Africa Command (Africom) infringes on the sovereignty of African states due to the particularity of Africa’s history and Africa’s current economic and political relationship to the United States.

Further, Africom is designed to violate international law standards that protect rights to self determination and that prohibit unprovoked military aggression.

Africom is also likely to become a device for the foreign domination and exploitation of Africa’s natural resources to the detriment of people who are indigenous to the African continent.
. . .
In the past Washington has aided reactionary African factions that have carried out atrocities against civilians. An increased U.S. military presence in Africa will likely follow this pattern of extracting resources while aiding factions in some of their bloodiest conflicts, thus further destabilizing the region.”
. . .
This raises special concerns because the threat to Africa’s political and economic integrity comes not only from the U.S. government, but also from the multi-national corporations that are the beneficiaries of government policies.

In recent years, this is seen most dramatically in Congo . . .
. . .
All of this raises critical questions of whether, with Africom, the U.S. is now positioning itself to become more directly involved – with or without proxies – in protecting corporate access to Africa’s resources. In many other parts of the world, the U.S. has engaged in “regime change” as a matter of course for more than a century as a method of protecting the interests of the corporate world.
. . .
With disturbing frequency, the U.S. has in recent decades launched unprovoked military attacks on other countries, or intervened in the internal affairs of other countries through the use of mercenaries or covert action designed to destabilize foreign governments or the economic, political or social order.

This article provides a brief and concise history of US intervention in Africa. It also touches on how the US has used mercenaries and proxies in the resource wars.

The US Africa Command now has an AFRICOM Dialogue blog. Having ignored African opinion in setting up AFRICOM, it now says:

As we build U.S. Africa Command, we want to talk to people about what the U.S. military is doing in Africa. Just as importantly, I want everyone on the staff to also listen and learn.

I am sure the intention is to listen and learn. But I wonder exactly what they intend to listen to, and learn about. One thing they may want to learn is to collect as much electronic and background data on the people commenting as possible. They can also collect data on the locations of opinions, and whether certain kinds of opinions are clustered or pinpointed in specific geographic areas, and specific computers.

AFRICOM was created by the same people who established Full Spectrum Dominance as the US military posture in the world, and is part of that policy.

Full-spectrum dominance means the ability of U.S. forces, operating alone or with allies, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations.

This is an imperial policy, a militarization of US foreign policy, and a danger to any targeted populations.

There is an article at the African Loft, Should Nigeria Welcome Gazprom?, the Russian oil company. Recently the Financial Times reported that Gazprom was making overtures to Nigerian government officials about developing gas fields in Nigeria.

The article provides some good information and analysis, including:

What about Gazprom? What does it have to offer? The Financial Times report (referred to in the first paragraph of this write up) provides next to nothing on this, though it quotes a Nigerian government official as saying:

“What Gazprom is proposing is mind boggling. They are talking tough and saying the west has taken advantage of us in the last 50 years and they’re offering us a better deal.”
. . .
Gazprom, like any other energy conglomerate, is simply strategically positioning itself for global growth beyond the shores of Eurasia.
. . .
Gazprom doesn’t really need Nigerian gas. . . . But Gazprom needs access to strategically positioned gas. As a significant player in the global LNG business and with Africa’s largest gas reserves, Nigeria seems a good place to start. Gazprom would not go into Nigeria to save it from the perils of western oil multinationals. It would go there for business and strategic reasons. Forget the east-west jargon.

And I am sure Gazprom would be as exploitive as it could be, as exploitive as any other multinational corporation. There is no history that would indicate otherwise.

The Vanguard reports that Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Andrew Azazi announced that 16 West African nations have established a West African Standby Brigade (WASB). This was something Yar’Adua spoke about in his somewhat confusing remarks about AFRICOM, after his visit to Bush in the White House.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Andrew Azazi, says that 16 West African countries have established a regional West African Standby Brigade (WASB) just as the Gulf of Guinea Commission has resolved to form a Gulf of Guinea Guards to safeguard the gulf region. Azazi said that the setting up of the brigade was designed to prevent political and other crises in the area from escalating into civil wars.
. . .
The CDS said that Nigeria was expected to play prominent roles in the training, provision of base and personnel, as well as funding and other logistics in the formation of the two forces.

“West African nations have agreed to establish West African Standby Brigade in the sub-region. Efforts have gone far in the formation of the West African Standby Force that will be organised and run by Africans themselves.

“The force will have five formations all over West Africa and Nigeria is expected to play prominent roles. The Gulf of Guinea Commission also intends to form the Gulf of Guinea Guards to police the gulf.

“Nigeria will play vital parts in the organisation of the two forces.

The Gulf of Guinea Guard, an extension of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, Angola, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sao Tome and Principe, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and DRC, all oil producing states, has been partnering with USEUCOM, and now AFRICOM.

[USEUCOM originally, and now AFRICOM has been working on] developing a coastal security system in the Gulf of Guinea called the Gulf of Guinea Guard.
. . .
The Pentagon is thus moving aggressively to establish a military presence in the Gulf of Guinea that will allow it to control the western part of the broad trans-Africa oil strip and the vital oil reserves now being discovered there.

That is why the USS Fort McHenry, the African Partnership Station, APS, is in the neighborhood, training and partnering all along the coast of West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.

General Azazi had earlier expressed some skepticism about AFRICOM, and said the US needed to explain the purpose and activities of AFRICOM a bit more clearly. This Day quoted him in November 2007:

. . . we feel is that nobody at the political level in African Union or ECOWAS knows enough about AFRICOM to make categorical statements . . . we (the ECOWAS CDS) are going to discuss AFRICOM if our advise is that it is not good for the continent it will be rejected and if it is good, it will be accepted. Otherwise, the general understanding is that AFRICOM is suppose to be good for capacity building, but what we are saying is that we should have a better understanding of all that is going to come about, let’s create awareness, let’s be a partnership that will help both sides.

It will be interesting and revealing to see how the West African Standby Brigade, and the Gulf of Guinea Guard work, how they interact, and whose interests they serve.

I originally published Origins of AFRICOM at the African Loft, which is no longer available.   So I have republished it here.   I have tried to connect the official documentation and historical path that led to the creation of AFRICOM, and provide links to the original sources. I’ve tried to keep it short and tie it all together. Plus, you can refer to the original documents, and other links, for more information. Give it a look.
updated April 21, 2014
Criminal Politics: Violence, “Godfathers” and Corruption in Nigeria

I ran across a blog that was new to me that has some interesting things to say:
ijebuman’s diary: The online ramblings of an Ijebu man in London
I found what he has to say interesting, and his style entertaining.

His post Criminal Politics – a report by HRW took me to this October 2007 report: Human Rights Watch has released an extensive report on the political situation in Nigeria, called Criminal Politics: Violence, “Godfathers” and Corruption in Nigeria, click here for the Pdf version

I’ve been reading in the report, and it does not paint a promising picture. Most of the governors are utterly corrupt and unaccountable to anyone. The youth are being manipulated and betrayed by their leadership. Just one example of this betrayal is youth training and employment programs being used to pay young men to act as political thugs on behalf of politicians. Considering the fact that a number of US Department of Defense and Pentagon planners consider Nigeria well on the way to being a failed state, and these same planners want Nigeria’s oil, prospects for the future are doubly discouraging. There has even been talk about redrawing African borders, and this from people who went into Iraq without knowing there is a difference between Sunni and Shia.

AFRICOM is already hanging around offshore, and partnering in the neighborhood. The HRW report makes a number of excellent recommendations, but it is hard to see how they might be implemented. There are a number of people in Nigeria who would like to turn the corruption around. But too many of the people who have the power and authority to do it, are enriched and advantaged by corruption. There may be some hope with the courts, which the report indicates are still for the most part trying to do their jobs. But courts alone can’t do it because their activities are by nature largely reactive. The situation also needs proactive measures.

Another post lists suggestions for How to keep your job (Naija style), which, with some slight alterations, applies just as well to all the corrupt and criminal cronies around Bush. I’ve certainly seen US versions of all 10 of these ploys in the news. I’ve copied some below. Substitute “the United States” for “Nigeria”, and there are only slight differences.

So you’ve been caught with your hands in the till (or in this case indicted for not following due process by awarding a contract to an unregistered company run by one of your aides).
No worries, here are a few tips on how to save your job;

1. The best form of defence is an attack, start by turning the tables on your opponents by accusing them of similar crimes.

2. Play the victim. Claim you’ve been set up and you know nothing about the allegations.

3. Employ a powerful Godfather to apply pressure on those in power
. . .
6. Employ Spiritual methods. Call on all pastors and imams to pray for you and Nigeria. If you attend a Pentecostal church, you can organise night vigils, prayer requests or make a large donation to your pastor to ensure he is on your case 24/7.
. . .
9. Set up a fictional group called “concerned citizens of Nigeria“, get the “group” to put out a full page ad in the news papers claiming there is a conspiracy against you. They should also list your “accomplishments” and declare you’re the best ***** Nigeria ever had.

10. Employ good old “shakara“. Declare that “it’s God’s will” that you got to your current position and by “God’s grace” no one can remove you


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