oil


East Africa’s Great Rift includes four rift systems that promise to hold significant deposits of oil. Africa Oil Corporation has been exploring and drilling here, and prepared a report that includes a number of excellent maps and graphics of seismic data. I’ve selected a few to show you here, but you can see them in greater clarity and detail in the PDF report Hunting Elephants In East Africa’s Rift Basins = January 2012 PDF.

Four major rift systems in East Africa.


four rifts key


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The four rift systems from different geologic time are illustrated above and below. You can click the maps to enlarge enough to read.
Tertiary Rift: runs through Uganda Kenya Ethiopia
Cretaceous Rift: runs through Sudan Kenya Mali
Jurassic Rift: crosses to include Yemen and the Puntland region of Somalia
Permian Triassic Rift: crosses the sea from Ethiopia through southern Somalia to Madagascar

The Tertiary Rift

Tertiary Rift Uganda Kenya Ethiopia: Tullow's Uganda discoveries now at 2.5+ billion barrels of reserves. Tertiary rift in Kenya/Ethiopia contains the same source and reservoir system as Uganda as confirmed by Leperot discovery by Shell in 1992.

The Cretaceous Rift

Cretaceous Rift Kenya Mali Sudan: Over 6 billion barrels of oil discovered on trend in the analogous system in Sudan. Thick oil stained section in the 1980s vintage Amoco/Total wells confirms hydrocarbon system.

The Jurassic Rift

Jurassic Rift Yemen Somalia: Prolific, proven play in Yemen expected to extend into Puntland, which shares a common geologic history. Yemen fields produce from high quality Cretaceous and Jurassic reservoirs and source rocks. Numerous oil shows from wells drilled by previous operators confirm Jurassic source rock.

The Permian Triassic Rift

Permo-Triassic Rift Ethiopia Madagascar: Multi-TCF gas reserves have been discovered in Triassic sandstones. Light oil has been tested in fractured Jurassic carbonates. El Kuran field discovered by Tenneco in the 1970s confirmed oil and gas in both systems.

Here is some detail of the Dharoor block in Puntland Somalia.

Dharoor Puntland Somalia

Here is some detail on Block 10A in Kenya where they are beginning to drill.

Block 10A Kenya

A seismic cross section of the Pai Pai prospect, site of drilling in Block 10A.

Pai Pai prospect Block 10A

A map of East Africa suggesting the underlying petroleum system.

East Africa petroleum system

These are the local totals for potential barrels of oil that Africa Oil Corporation expects to be able to recover from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Puntland in Somalia.

Potential

This is the total size of the potential oil prize in both barrels of oil and dollars.

Size of the prize in billions of barrels

Do note the caveat:

There is no certainty that any portion of the resources will be discovered. If discovered there is no certainty the the discovery will be commercially viable to produce any portion of the resources.

All of these countries and locations mapped are of interest to the United States and its Africa Command, AFRICOM. Many aspects of that interest have been covered here in this blog.

These earlier posts, along with their comments, are particularly relevant to East African oil.
Uganda – Stepping On the Mission Creep Accelerator
If Uganda Has Oil It Must Need The Pentagon’s Democracy
Uganda – Oil Reserves To Rival Saudi Arabia?

The coup in Mali appears to be over, and President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso is leading talks on how to organize and move forward.

“Former parliament speaker Dioncounda Traoré was sworn in on Thursday as interim president after Amadou Toumani Touré resigned under the 6 April agreement.

The 70-year-old mathematician turned politician is expected to name a prime minister soon, and to organise elections within 40 days.

He has threatened “total war” against the northern rebels, who seized a vast swathe of territory amid the disarray that followed the 22 March coup, which the mutineers justified by accusing Touré’s government of mishandling the Tuareg rebellion.”

The following interview with Andy Morgan from March 27 provides knowledge, history, and insight regarding what is going on with the Tuareg uprising in Mali.

“Q: Could you give us the general picture of what is going on in Mali at the moment?
A: The Tuaregs have been fighting an insurgency against the central power in Mali since the late 1950s but in terms of open fighting, since 1963. So this is a very old story. What we are seeing is the latest chapter, but a chapter with a great many differences. The Tuaregs this time are better equipped, better trained and better led than they ever have been before and as a result they have been able to clinch a series of military victories which have given them control of the northern half of Mali …

Q: What about the AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)? Does this group exist and are there any links with the MNLA as some have suggested?
A: No Tuareg has ever killed or maimed another human being in the name of religion – certainly not in the last sixty years. I say that just to make clear that there is no cultural affinity between the Tuareg and AQIM. There is no question that AQIM does actually exist, this has been verified, but the more difficult question is who are its friends and enemies? They carry out kidnappings and have murdered people, including soldiers and policemen and have carried out suicide attacks. But there is a great deal of conjecture about this whole issue. What does certainly happen is that many western African and North African governments use Al Qaeda to discredit political or independence and autonomy movements.”

Here is the map of Mali from near the end of March.

Map of Mali with the MNLA claims and positions as of March 28, 2012, before the MNLA captured Timbuktu

An excerpt from The Causes of the Uprising in Northern Mali by Andy Morgan:

“Iyad Ag Ghali, Ansar Eddine and Mali-AQIM collusion theory

Iyad’s creation of Ansar Eddine and his reported ties with a certain Abou Abdelkarim aka Le Targui, one of the minor AQIM leaders operating in the southern desert, have opened the flood gates to national and international speculation about the possible links between the Tuareg rebel movement and Islamic terrorists, a link that the Malian government is all to keen to stoke and publicise in order to discredit the movement. As his name indicates, Abdelkarim le Targui is supposedly a Tuareg, a native of the Tinzawaten region and the erstwhile preacher at the mosque in In Khalil, a remote and fairly lawless border town in the far north east of Mali. He is reportedly a subordinate of the thuggish emir Abou Zeid, and leader of his own small katiba called Al Ansar which was responsible for kidnapping the septuagenarian French humanitarian worker Michel Germaneau in 2010. According to an announcement by Abdelmalik Droukdel, until recently the supreme leader of AQIM, which was posted up on the AQIM website, Abdelkarim Le Targui was also responsible for murdering Germaneau in cold blood as well as negotiation major drug deals on behalf of AQIM with the representatives of a Colombian drugs cartel in Guinea-Bissau. Not the kind of person you should be associating with if you want to present yourself as a legitimate political organisation.

Iyad’s association with Abdelkarim Le Targui is vague and conjectural. Some Tuareg even argue that far from being a true targui, Abdelkarim is an Algerian Arab, like all the other AQIM leaders in the southern desert. Nonetheless this link, together with the perceived religious extremism of Iyad and his Ansar Eddine movement, has spawned a smear campaign in Bamako which aims to convince the world that the MNLA are in cahoots with AQIM. The AFP reporter in Bamako even claimed that Abou Zeid took part in a recent MNLA attack on the army in the village of Aguel’hoc north of Kidal. Nothing is more poisonous to the international image of the Tuareg cause than this taint of fundamentalism and AQIM, not even the Gaddafi links.

There are several reasons why that taint is wholly unjustified. The first is that since the inception of the MNA and MNLA movements, one of their loudest, most cherished and oft repeated aims is to rid their homeland of AQIM, an organisation which they consider to be one of Mali’s most effective weapons in its fight against their cause. “AQIM was parachuted in and installed in our territory by the Malian government,” declares Hama Ag Sid’Ahmed, with total conviction. “It was the initiative of certain drugs barons, who are advisors to the President, in the shadows of the Koulouba Palace [The Presidential palace in Bamako]. They brought them into the Timbuktu region and then to Kidal. In return for the release of the 32 hostages in 2003, a pact of non-aggression was signed between Bamako and Al Qaeda, who then progressively occupied this territory. Those contacts became permanent and it’s clear that since then all the operations led by the terrorist groups have originated in Mali, and the terrorist have always fallen back to Mali. It’s their safe haven. Everyone knows that the terrorists are in communication with military leaders, and that politicians from Bamako meet the terrorist emirs quite regularly.”

Far fetched? Maybe. Like Professor Jeremy Keenan’s controversial theory that AQIM are a creation of the Algerian DRS, the Mali-AQIM collusion theory remains conjectural. But the circumstantial evidence that links a cabal of Malian army and secret service operatives, usually Arabs from the north of the country close to the upper echelons of Mali’s political and military hierarchy, to the huge drug smuggling operations that have blighted the stability of the northern deserts in recent years and to AQIM is very strong. It’s hardly a secret anymore that a consensus exists among US, French and Algerian diplomats in the region that Mali has been long on words but short on action in its dealings with AQIM since 2006. The frustration with Mali’s lack of firm resolve and decisive action in this regard, despite the millions of dollars in aid that it has received from the US and France specifically for the purpose of fighting terrorists on its soil, has been growing exponentially in the embassies and foreign ministries of the world powers. Apart from one clash with AQIM in the desert north of Timbuktu back in 2006, there have hardly been any confirmed reports of the Malian army doing any damage to AQIM at all. In fact, the most determined opposition that AQIM has encountered during its five year campaign of terror in Mali has been at the hands of the ADC, the Tuareg rebel movement launched in 2006, who skirmished with the terrorists several times between 2006 and 2009, with lives lost on both sides. And now that the entire might of the Malian army has been thrown against the Tuareg uprising with such devastating force, including fighter jets, tanks, armoured vehicles, missiles of every stamp and thousands of troops, it’s little wonder that Tuaregs, diplomats, analysts and commentators are feeling a tad cynical about Mali’s repeated assertions in recent years that they’ve never had the military wherewithal to deal with the AQIM threat.

A senior Malian politician once had the temerity to declare in a private meeting at the US Embassy in Bamako that the presence of AQIM in the north east of the country was a good thing, as long as it meant that the Tuareg rebel movement wasted its resources and time trying to combat it. At another meeting, the new Algerian ambassador informed his US counterpart that he suspected collusion between Mali and the terrorists. He cited the then recent case of a joint Algerian-Malian operation to attack an AQIM base that had failed because the AQIM katiba in question had been tipped off in advance. All these frankly startling revelations are contained in the US Embassy cables leaked by Bradley Manning and Wikileaks. In fact, there is no better way to understand what really went on in the northern deserts of Mali between 2006 and early 2010 than to read those US Embassy cables. The level of intelligence, analysis and research contained in them is often of the highest order. And yes, they do reveal that the US Embassy has also suspected Mali of at best tolerating and at worst colluding with AQIM at one time or another.

If the implantation of AQIM on Tuareg soil was part of a deliberate Malian strategy, then it has been extraordinarily effective. The main campaign of AQIM kidnapping and extortion began in March 2008 (interestingly there had been a five year hiatus since the 2003 hostage incident), just when relations between Mali, the ADC and Ag Bahanga were reaching their nadir. Since that time AQIM has knocked the Tuareg rebellion squarely off the front page, both national and internationally. Until January 17 of this year that is. The presence of AQIM in Mali put the country in the front line of the USA’s global war on terror, giving it kudos and a receptive ear in Washington whilst justifying the huge amounts of money, training and equipment that America lavished on Mali in the context of its Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Programme (TSCTP) and Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI). It has also emptied the north of foreign journalists, foreign observers, foreign NGO workers, foreign tourists and foreigners in general, whose presence could have been inconvenient for certain shady army or secret service (DGSE) operations, especially those linked with the drug trade. Most of all, AQIM have simply throttled the region and deprived its Tuareg population of any hope of building a viable future and developing a strong economy. In short, AQIM has crippled Tuareg society in Mali’s north east. No wonder MNLA have vowed to rid their land of Al Qaeda.

And yet Iyad Ag Ghali’s Ansar Eddine movement continues to sow the seeds of doubt and Mali’s propaganda machine continues to milk any possible connection between the MNLA, Iyad and AQIM for all its worth. Apparently Iyad tried to sell his plan for an Islamic inspired movement to the Ifoghas meeting in Abeibara by promising that his political approach would be no different to that of the moderate Islamic parties that have come to power following the Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. There also happens to be another Islamic organisation in Mali with the name Ansar Dine. It has a vast following amongst southern Malians, who flock to football stadiums in their thousands to hear the preachings of the movement’s leader, Cherif Ousmane Madani Haidara. Ansar Dine preaches tolerance, democracy and social morality inspired by faith in the teachings of The Prophet. It is also an ardent critic of government corruption and incompetence. Perhaps Iyad sees his movement as a Tamasheq off shoot of the bigger Ansar Dine. Who knows? “What’s very important is that all the religious leaders of the Adagh des Iforas have categorically rejected this foreign Salafist culture that has been planted in their midst,” Hama Ag Sid’Ahmed declares with emphasis. “I know that Iyad is an important person in the region and I know that he’s involved in religious matters. But I cannot believe that he would completely abandon the tolerance that is part of our Tuareg culture. Not for one second. Maybe Iyad and others realise that AQIM has a hold on some of our young people, and they’re trying to present a different message about Islam that might possibly win back all those that the Salafists have co-opted into their ranks.”’

There is also this article that is worth noting:
Terrorism In The Sahara And Sahel: A ‘False Flag’ In The War On Terror? – by Richard Trillo

“Some Sahara analysts believe that AQIM, which was formed in 2007, is a false flag organisation. In this scenario, many of AQIM’s members may be genuine Islamic ideologues from Algeria, with a background in the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) that were formed after the cancellation of Algeria’s 1991 elections in which the Islamic Salvation Front won a sweeping victory. The activities of these AQIM ground troops, however, are said to be coordinated by none other than the Algerian intelligence service itself, in a strategy aimed at justifying the country’s authoritarian government, procuring arms and drawing their American military partners into the region in the “Global War on Terror” (there is a significant American military presence in the Sahel, notably a large US training base at Gao, in Mali).”

And a comment to the article says:

“I was in Mauritania spring 2009. On June 25 (2009, not 2010) Christopher Leggett, a husband and father of four, was shot multiple times. Leggett was an American aid worker teaching computer classes. At the time AQIM issued statement: “Two knights of the Islamic Maghreb killed Christopher Leggett for his Chistianizing activities”. Soon after more than 100 Peace Corps volunteers were evacuated to Senegal. (The Peace Corp had worked in Mauritania 40+ yrs)
In Novemeber 2009 AQIM also kidnapped three Spanish aid workers in Mauritania…

Agree, the operations of AQIM appear focused on running blackmarket opperations (smuggling, drugs, money-laundering & protection rackets). It appears to me AQIM does not want witnesses, foreign observers, especially those trusted by locals. Leggett and the three Spanish aid workers were neither political targets nor ransom targets (corporate engineers/execs).

AQIM violence not only drove off tourists, but also aid workers… which may have been their objective.”

Outsiders who are trusted by local residents might bring back reports of what is really happening. Those with a political agenda might want the outside to know of their deeds when they are effective. They may have less to hide. Those with a criminal agenda might want to prevent any whiff of real information from reaching the wider world. They may have much more to hide.

Here is more from the interview with Andy Morgan in Global Dispatches on the subject of Mali’s Tuareg Rebellion.

“From about October 2011 onwards, they basically started preparing the uprising, with long meetings out in the desert where they indulged in a great deal of soul searching about what had gone wrong in previous uprisings, so as to get it right this time. What happened is that they entered into an alliance with a much younger group of Tuaregs, you might say young intellectuals, very Internet savvy young Tuaregs, who set up the National Movement of Azawad, the MNA at the end of 2010. They eventually merged with the MNLA. This was an important move as one of the aspects that was deemed to be lacking in previous uprisings was good communications with the international media, and with the world at large.

Q: When we talk about Tuaregs we are talking about many different tribes, spread over different countries. Some say the MNLA is just a small group of a few thousand fighters. What sort of support does the MNLA have from Tuaregs as a whole?
A: There are roughly 1.5 million Tuaregs, although an accurate census does not exist. They are spread out over 5 countries: Mali, Algeria, Libya, Niger and Burkina Faso. They have a very complex clan and tribal structure, at the top of which you have 5 large confederations which are then broken down into tribes, then clans and families etc. It’s very complex. They don’t all see eye-to-eye and historically they have fought against each other, sometimes very bitterly. The idea of a Tuareg identity is a relatively recent phenomenon. Up till about 50 years ago, they did not see themselves as a unified people, they saw themselves as different families, tribes and clans – nomads from different parts of the desert who often fought against each other.

Q: So who are the MNLA?
A: The MNLA are basically led by Tuaregs from the north-east of Mali, especially by two particular clans, called the Iforas and Idnan. The Iforas are the traditional rulers of north-eastern Mali. The Idnan are also a traditional warrior clan, bearing in mind that their society is very hierarchical and each clan had its different role. All of these old structures have been modified and deconstructed over the last one hundred years, but basically these two groups, the Iforas and the Idnan, are very much at the head of the MNLA. Support for the MNLA amongst Tuaregs is quite broad, partly as a result of the MNA’s propaganda and certainly before this latest conflict happened, I got the feeling from talking to various friends, that a lot of Tuaregs felt that at last they had a rebel organisation that was worthy of their cause. However they do not represent all Tuaregs by any means, and even less, all the people living in the north of Mali, where there are quite a number of different ethnicities apart from the Tuareg, including Arabs, Songhai and Peulh. All I can say is that it’s been along time since a rebel movement has enjoyed the level of support that the MNLA have, but this support is by no means universal.

Q: Is there any internal opposition?
A: There is one group that is seemingly opposed to the MNLA and they are called the Inghad. They are the former subordinate or ‘vassal’ class in the old hierarchical structure, subordinate to the more noble Idnan and Iforas Tuaregs. Many of the Inghad were in favour of the Tuareg lands becoming part of the Republic of Mali, as the socialist principles upon which the Malian Republic was built meant that they were freed from their subservient status in Tuareg society. One of the most frequently touted names in this conflict is a Tuareg military commander called Colonel al-Hajj Gamou. He has been the Malian army’s champion in the north-east for quite a number of years and he is an Inghad, from one of these vassal tribes. Ag Gamou has been built up as the defender of the Malian cause in the north. Apart from the Libyan Tuareg presence in the MNLA, there have also been a lot of desertions to the MNLA from the Malian army since December, as the Malian army did comprise a large number of Tuaregs. The actual number of people in the MNLA is difficult to gauge but I am sure that the numbers are growing.

Q: What are the aims of the MNLA?
A: They want a country of their own, a country called Azawad, which will comprise the three northernmost provinces or regions of present-day Mali – Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. There has long been a debate within Tuareg society about what they want; autonomy within a federalist Malian structure or a completely independent state. After the last big rebellion in the early 1990s, when the suffering among the civilian population was quite extreme, many Tuaregs fell back to a more conciliatory position, saying that they did not want an independent country but wanted their rights; cultural rights and economic rights. This position has hardened in recent years to the point where the MNLA want absolute independence for Azawad, the long-dreamed-of Tuareg state.

By saying that they are only interested in Mali, the MNLA are trying to limit the fear and concern of neighbouring states that a Tuareg uprising in Mali will lead to Tuareg uprisings elsewhere in all the 5 other countries where Tuareg are present.

Morgan continues to describe in more detail why the nearby countries are extremely nervous about the situation. He speaks about the reasons for the coup, and the very real grievances the Malian military had against their government. He discusses the origin and nature of Ansar al Din, and the links and frictions between it and the MNLA, and the AQIM. Morgan describes how AQIM’s kidnapping and drug running destroyed tourism and related business in northern Mali. This led to bad feelings towards AQIM. Morgan discusses how during peaceful times, Malians and the Tuareg generally get along pretty well. And he discusses the tensions between Mali and Mauritania.

Ansar al Din probably caused Alexandra at Libya360 to write:

“I have been expressing concern for Tuareg for several months. My research uncovered two parallel movements. One, a genuine uprising of the Tuareg. The other, an imperialist-backed initiative aimed and manufacturing consent for the takeover of another African nation and the genocide of the Tuareg.

The US and the French have had their Special Operations forces in northern Mali and neighboring countries for most of this century, and the French long before that. The French have been particularly active in Niger. The US has used this time to create a decade of lies in order to establish the GWOT in the Sahara and give some legitimacy to AQIM in order to justify anti-terrorism.”

Moeen Raoof writes:

“The conflict in Libya has had a devastating effect in Niger and Mali where the nomadic Tuareg peoples in the Sahara Desert regions of northern Niger and Mali and southern Libya have been involved in a spate of kidnappings and armed uprisings known as the ‘Tuareg rebellion’. This is especially dangerous for northern Niger in and around the town of Arlit, an industrial town located in the Agadez region, where uranium is mined by French companies in two large uranium mines (Arlit and Akouta).

Put simply, this is about Uranium to be found in the Tuareg areas of Mali, Niger and Libya, the next step will be UN/ECOWAS/NATO Peace-keepers, Military intervention and killing of thousands of Tuaregs.”

Not only is uranium an issue, oil is in the picture as well. As Andy Morgan puts it:

“Q: What about oil and gas? Is the area strategic in terms of its mineral resources?
A: Yes, one thing that has been happening in the last 5 years is that northern Mali has been explored, and parcelled off as lots for oil drilling. Those lots have already been sold off – and I should say this is where things get very murky and where some serious investigative journalism needs to be done. Total, the French oil company, were involved in the exploration, as were the Qatar Petroleum Company. As we know, both Qatar and France were heavily involved in the overthrow of Gaddafi and many Malian commentators see a conspiracy theory in which France (remembering that France and the Tuaregs did try and set up a Tuareg state back in the ’50s prior to Malian independence which was quashed by the FLN in Algeria and the leaders of independent Mali) have always rued the fact that they lost all their colonies and access to the rich minerals in northern Mali. So many Malians see the Tuareg rebellion as being engineered by the French.”

Energypedia provides an outline of Mali’s oil blocks, and this piece of information from October 2011:

“Algerian state energy group Sonatrach will start long-awaited drilling for oil in Mali’s section of the Taoudeni Basin by mid-2012, the company’s managing director said on Malian state radio. Sonatrach signed a deal for oil exploration in Mali in 2007, but progress has been slow in the basin, which straddles Mali, Algeria and Mauritania. The area is overrun by gunmen, some of whom are linked to al Qaeda”

The Taoudeni Basin in Mali, which extends far into Mauritania, and somewhat into Algeria, is thought to be the location of significant reserves of oil.

There is an interview with a spokesman for the MNLA from March 28 at Afrik.com
MNLA : « L’indépendance ne se donne pas, elle se mérite, google translation here. Mossa Ag Attach, communications officer for the MNLA tells us in the interview that the MNLA is determined to control (free) the three northern cities, Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu. He indicates the MNLA is happy to negotiate so long as the government of Mali will respect Azawad independence. You can check for more from the source at the MNLA website.

The international community is hyping the threat of terror, linking it to the Tuareg victories in the north of Mali. But if Mali’s army and political elite have been a more active partners and participants with AQIM’s drug smuggling and criminal endeavors, the Tuareg may make life more difficult for AQIM, and cost some big people money. Also, how does the quest for oil and uranium interact with AQIM’s criminal endeavors?

The north of Mali is hostile and unfamiliar to soldiers from the south. ECOWAS has spoken of sending troups, but getting actual troop commitments is chancy, and no way guaranteed.

If the upper echelons of Mali’s army and political elite are allied with AQIM, and the US knows this, then all the train and equip is another example of the US knowingly partnering with the perpetrators, and actively concealing the truth. What is the goal of such a policy?

 
 
 

Be sure to read the entire article, The Causes of the Uprising in Northern Mali by Andy Morgan. I only included a small portion here. He covers many more aspects of the recent history and the present situation.
Check the interview as well Mali’s Tuareg Rebellion.
 
Earlier posts relevant to this topic:
Inherent contradictions of AFRICOM – lies and illusions
US Policy Versus Democracy In Mali
Lied Into the War On Terror In the Sahara
New York Times catapults the propganda for AFRICOM
Obama’s African Rifles – Partners/Surrogates/Proxies
Supplying Arms and Military Training – The US Gift to Africa

h/t David/Daoud
h/t Joerg Tiedjen
for informative links

AFRICOM was created for two main reasons, oil and China. I have documented where US officials have stated this at numerous places in this blog. For a more detailed discussion see Understanding AFRICOM: A Contextual Reading of Empire’s New Combatant Command Part I, Part II and Part III.

Kwesi Pratt, editor of the Insight newspaper in Ghana, was one of the few people who caught on to this very early. His question to President Bush regarding oil and Africa was rudely dismissed by Bush. In this century the West intends on taking 3 Cs out of Africa: Crude, China, and Capital.

Uganda People’s Defense Forces and U.S. Soldiers wait for supplies to be dropped from a Ugandan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter during Atlas Drop 11 at Drop Zone White near Olilim, northern Uganda, April 18, 2011. The US military was active in Northern Uganda and bordering countries long before President Obama announced he was sending Special Operations forces there in October 2011. AFRICOM and SOCOM (US Special Operations Command) plan to be there long after Kony and the LRA are a distant memory.

The LRA has been a scourge on Uganda for more than 20 years. When Uganda discovered oil prospects, the US became interested in the LRA. The military option to defeat Kony has been explored numerous times in the past, notably Operation North (1991), Operation Iron Fist (2002) and Operation Lightning Thunder (2008-2009). Each failed and led to massive reprisals against civilians.

The Acholi religious leaders, representing the regions and people who have suffered most from Kony and the LRA, point out that the only times things have gotten better is when there have been talks and negotiations.

Kony has no known political affiliations, he just likes war and terrorizing. Humanitarian rationalizations have always been the cloak of legitimacy for the ruthless extraction of African resources. We should recognize this by now.

Kony and the LRA operate across the borders in the territories of several countries that are of particular interest to the United States (partial lists of their resources in parentheses) South Sudan (oil, land, water, China) the DRC – Congo (oil, coltan, tin, tungsten, copper, gold, water, timber, China etc.) Uganda (oil, China, source of proxy soldiers, water, land, etc.) Burundi (uranium, rare earth, diamonds, cobalt, copper, land, water) CAR – Central African Republic (diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil). So Kony and the LRA are a very handy target indeed.

It would be excellent for everyone if Kony and the LRA are put out of business. IF (big IF) the US military can put Kony out of business, on its own, that would be a blessing. That is not the real reason the US is there, and the US will not be leaving when Kony is gone.

Museveni used protection from the LRA as a tool against the Acholi and other people of Northern Uganda, some call his methods genocide, they were certainly brutal and pervasive. It was not entirely inconvenient for him to have the LRA in business. The same is true for the United States. Kony and the LRA are very convenient, putting the US military exactly where they want to be.

Kony is a handy cover for the real reasons for US interest in the region, which are all about African resources.

You can see links to more information and documentation in these posts:
Uganda – Stepping On the Mission Creep Accelerator
If Uganda Has Oil It Must Need The Pentagon’s Democracy
or via this search: https://crossedcrocodiles.wordpress.com/?s=lra

Soldiers of the 5th Brigade, 75th Division, California Army Reserve, stand in formation with soldiers from Rwanda and Uganda during exercise Natural Fire 11 in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

RT is featuring a documentary about oil in Nigeria called Blood of Nigeria, directed by Philippe Lespinasse. It is well done and worth a look. RT is showing it in two parts. They will be consecutive on the schedule, but there may be other programs in between, and the RT schedule does not indicate which is part 1 and which is part 2. You can see the scheduled times here: Blood of Nigeria, and you can check the program schedule in Moscow time. If you don’t get RT, you can watch it in their streaming video feed at the scheduled broadcast times.

The Niger Delta, one of the 10 most important wetland and coastal marine ecosystems in the world, has experienced an average of one oil spill per day, collectively the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez spill per year, for five decades, 50 years.

Blood of Nigeria film crew travelling on the oil covered water in the Niger Delta. The oil covers the water and nothing lives beneath it.

You can watch the film online narrated in French at Le sang de Nigéria. The full film is about 53 minutes long. You will find more information and another link to the film here.

Dead mangrove in the Niger Delta, suffocated by oil. These wetlands are part of the lungs of our planet.


The approach to an informal oil refinery in the Niger Delta

An FPSO, Floating Production Storage and Offloading, an offshore oil & gas industry vessel, glittering in the sea off the coast of the Niger Delta

After 50 years of massive oil spills the Niger Delta is a Laboratory For Oil Spills In Coastal Wetlands. Even so, no one is studying it, and attempts to study it are prevented.

For a quick and clear explanation of why Nigeria erupted in protests when the fuel subsidy was removed, see Naijablog.
Here is a brief excerpt:

“… the lived reality of citizens of the Nigerian state is that it provides little or no security, no infrastructure, no education and no employment opportunities (apart from mostly McJobs in the civil service). Everywhere in Nigeria, the basic elements of civilised existence have to be taken care of house-by-house, compound-by-compound. You must sink your own borehole for water, buy, install and fuel a generator for power, hire security guards to keep the wolves from the door, pay school fees to ensure your kids get a half-decent education because the public school system is in perpetual meltdown. And to earn enough money to get through the day, you must hustle.

For the past few decades, cheap fuel has therefore been the only form of social contract between ordinary Nigerians and the state and the principle lever to control inflation during times of rising oil prices. With most Nigerians subsisting on US$2 or less, subsidised fuel has also been a survival mechanism, making life only just bearable.

As it is, most Nigerians are poor, and will simply not be able to survive with any comfort on US$2 a day and a doubling of living costs.”

Why is Obama sending troops to Uganda?

“Uganda’s proximity to the new country of South Sudan is key in the whole equation. … this whole area is prime real estate where the fierce battle between China and the Americans/Europeans plays out, centered on oil and minerals, all part of the Great 21st Century African Resource War.

… Uganda – and nearby eastern Congo – happens to hold fabulous quantities of, among others, diamonds, gold, platinum, copper, cobalt, tin, phosphates, tantalite, magnetite, uranium, iron ore, gypsum, beryllium, bismuth, chromium, lead, lithium, niobium and nickel. …

Uganda may hold … part of a recent, largest-ever on-shore oil discovery in sub-Saharan Africa. …Washington wants to make sure that all this oil will be exclusively available for the US and Europe.

The Obama administration insists the 100 special forces will be “advisers” – not combat troops. Think of Vietnam in the early 1960s; it started with “advisers” – and the rest is history.”

In fact US military trainers and advisors in Uganda is nothing new. They have been there partnering with Museveni and the UPDF since AFRICOM was formed and before. Below is one picture from 2009, and two from earlier this year, 2011. In October 2010, a year ago, AFRICOM asked for bids for non-personnel services to build a Special Ops base camp in Uganda (google cached version link) in an “austere environment”. The intention to send US soldiers to Uganda did not just happen, it has been underway for a number of years.

Whether or not they catch Kony, it will be a handy bit of on the job training for continued operations in Uganda, South Sudan, and the DRC. For civilians living in the region this escalates the threat of violence they face every day. Every attempt to capture or kill Kony has failed, and led to murderous rampages.

The most grievous and pervasive threat of terrorism in Africa is the threat to African civilians from their own militaries. The militarized US foreign policy, employing military training and partnering, makes this threat exponentially worse.

CAMP KASENYI, Uganda – Staff Sergeant Andre Amantine of the 2-18 Field Artillery Regiment out of Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, salutes Sergeant First Class Cary Adams-course Sergeant Major, during a 15-week Counter Terrorism Course, June 16, 2009, at Camp Kasenyi, Uganda. More than 100 Ugandan soldiers graduated from this CJTF-HOA-supported course, which covered topics such as individual movement techniques, troop landing procedures, land navigation, first aid, identifying improvised explosive devises, and more. (Photo by Master Sergeant Loren Bonser)

SOROTI, Uganda – Uganda People’s Defence Forces soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion train on setting up a drop zone with U.S. soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, Georgia National Guard, at Drop Zone Red near Kapelebyong, Uganda, during Atlas Drop 11, April 14, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Sergeant 1st Class Brock Jones)

ENTEBBE, Uganda - Petty Officer 2nd Class Chad Drake, right, participates in platoon movement exercises, June 6, 2011, while members of the Ugandan People's Defence Force observe and give direction during an Advanced Combat Training course in Jinja. Drake visited four countries in the Horn of Africa with other cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy to participate in a cultural and military exchange to share best practices and understand regional affairs. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Wilson)

Pepe Escobar, quoted above, provides a comprehensive summary:

Obama, the king of Africa

“Anyone may be excused to see Uganda as Libya upside down – because that’s exactly what it is; the dictator in this case gets a good guy billing – one of “our bastards” – while the “rebels” have a pact with the devil. But is that all there is?

I got an urge to surge
The reality in Uganda is an absolute, murderous mess. As much as the LRA “rebels”, Museveni’s government (helped by Washington) has also perpetrated horrendous massacres against civilians. Kony may even be an amateur compared to Museveni – a sort of dictator for life who has just supervised the displacement and mass murder of at least 20,000 Ugandans on behalf of British corporations. Additionally, Museveni basically stole the Ugandan elections early this year.

Obama’s Uganda surge should be seen as a crucial exchange of favors with Museveni – who has sent thousands of Ugandan troops to the African Union (AU) force that is fighting the hardcore Islamist al-Shabaab in Somalia. So while Uganda fights a proxy war for the US in Somalia, Washington helps the dictator to get rid of the LRA “rebels”. No wonder the Pentagon is quite fond of Uganda; Museveni recently got $45 million in equipment, including four small drones.

The LRA – a ragged bunch of hardcore Christian fundamentalists – is based in northern Uganda but spread out between four countries, including the new South Sudan and Congo, in Central Africa. They carry no heavy weapons. They don’t stand a chance of destabilizing the Ugandan government – much less being a “national security” threat to the US. Bogeyman Kony may be in hiding somewhere along the immense Sudan-Congo border, with no more than 400 warriors left.

Uganda’s proximity to the new country of South Sudan is key in the whole equation. So far, for Northern Sudan the LRA has been a convenient, weaponized firewall against Western puppet Museveni. But most of all, this whole area is prime real estate where the fierce battle between China and the Americans/Europeans plays out, centered on oil and minerals, all part of the Great 21st Century African Resource War.

Any student of realpolitik knows the US doesn’t do “humanitarian” interventions per se. Africom’s surge parallels the real name of the game; precious minerals – and mining. Uganda – and nearby eastern Congo – happens to hold fabulous quantities of, among others, diamonds, gold, platinum, copper, cobalt, tin, phosphates, tantalite, magnetite, uranium, iron ore, gypsum, beryllium, bismuth, chromium, lead, lithium, niobium and nickel. Many among these are ultra-precious rare earth – of which China exercises a virtual monopoly.

The mineral rush in Africa is already one of the great resource wars of the 21st century.China is ahead, followed by companies from India, Australia, South Africa and Russia (which, for instance, has set up a fresh gold refinery in Kampala). The West is lagging behind. The name of the game for the US and the Europeans is to pull no punches to undermine China’s myriad commercial deals all across Africa.

Then there’s the inescapable Pipelineistan angle. Uganda may hold “several billion barrels of oil”, according to Heritage Oil’s Paul Atherton, part of a recent, largest-ever on-shore oil discovery in sub-Saharan Africa. That implies the construction of a $1.5 billion, 1,200 kilometer long pipeline to Kampala and the coast of Kenya. Then there’s another pipeline from “liberated” South Sudan. Washington wants to make sure that all this oil will be exclusively available for the US and Europe.

Obama, the King of Africa
The Obama administration insists the 100 special forces will be “advisers” – not combat troops. Think of Vietnam in the early 1960s; it started with “advisers” – and the rest is history. Now, the “advisers” are even expected to fan out from Uganda to South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And it’s not even the first time this happens. George W Bush tried the same thing in 2008. It ended in unmitigated disaster because of – what else is new – corruption inside the Ugandan army. Kony was tipped off and escaped hours before an attack on his camp.

The official Washington spin hammers the fact that the LRA has “murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children”. Now compare it … to the thunderous silence of the Obama White House as racist eastern Libya “rebels” round up, harass, torture and even snuff out sub-Saharan Africans.

Africa has been fighting like forever against multiple strands of the great white genocidal slave master, aided and abetted by multiple strands of the subservient black dictator/kleptocrat – just to be presented in the early 21st century with an American president of direct African descent who has nothing better to offer than special forces, drones, a militarization surge and hypocrisy-laced “humanitarian” intervention.”

Escobar points out that Museveni’s UPDF has been responsible for a multitude of deaths, violence, and brutalities against Ugandans. As Escobar says, it is Libya upside down, this time the US supports the brutal dictator against the so called rebels. In addition to brutalities in Uganda, Museveni and Ugandan sponsored militias share responsibility for brutal war crimes in the Congo.

 

 

 

P. Okema Otika writes about Museveni’s crimes against Ugandans. 
Museveni and Kony Both Should Face War Crimes Tribunal

“To anyone who is unfamiliar with the war in Northern Uganda that started in 1986 when Museveni had just come to power, Museveni’s quest to prosecute Kony might sound like a sound idea coming from a responsible person. However, to those who have suffered through the years and experienced atrocities perpetrated by both the rebels and the Ugandan army, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), Museveni is just as criminal as the Kony he is trying to prosecute.

Since 1986, Museveni’s army has been known to commit some of the worst atrocities on the ethnic Acholi people who occupy the regions of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader. The UPDF, also formerly known as the National Resistance Army (NRA) became infamous for burning civilians alive in huts, killings, and the rapes of both women and men in what the Acholi called tek gungu. Tek Gungu referred to rape of men and women by Museveni’s soldiers who would force a man or woman to kneel down (gungu) before the rape is committed against the male or female victim. These rape incidents have been documented by Human Rights Watch and yet remain ignored by most so-called mainstream media. Museveni, despite his army’s atrocities remains a Western “darling.”

By 1990, Museveni had accomplished most of what he wanted; leaving tens of thousands of Acholi dead and thousands languishing in Luzira prison for alleged treason. All these are well documented and still remain fresh in the minds of the Acholi who had trusted Museveni and thought he would treat them as citizens of Uganda rather than his adversaries.

As if his terror was not enough, in 1996 Museveni declared a presidential order that stipulated that all local Acholi living in their homes in the villages be forcefully moved into concentration camps to be surrounded by government troops ostensibly to guard them against LRA rebels’ atrocities. Where else in the world but in Africa would the international community today stand for such gross violation of human rights?

Museveni’s troops immediately started beating up locals to run to the camps. They burnt down crops and houses of the locals so that they would not go back to their homes. The result was the creation of communal homelessness for over 500,000 people who up to now have no permanent home, and live in some of the worse human conditions in the world. Although Museveni prefers to call the camps “Protected Camps,” the locals who live there know it as a concentration camp in which terror reigns and individual freedoms don’t exist.

Government soldiers claiming to be guarding these camps are well known for their atrocities on the hapless civilians.They rape the women and have contributed to the increase in the rate of HIV/AIDS — now the highest in that region.

These are just few recorded incidents and yet the majority remained unreported. Similarly, the government is indiscriminately using its Helicopter Gunship and night-guided vision technology to try to spot and kill the LRA rebels. However, the majority of the unfortunate victims are innocent civilians.”

It needs to be repeated, the most grievous and pervasive threat of terrorism in Africa is the threat to African civilians from their own militaries.

Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire provides additional Ugandan perspective. She tells us both the CAR and DRC have asked Uganda’s UPDF to leave their countries. I am curious how that fits in with the renewed military initiative coming from the United States. The US has entered into agreements regarding the search for Kony with South Sudan, the CAR and the DRC.

Obama’s troops in Central Africa to fight LRA; will they deliver?

“Many Ugandans, through various social networks, have expressed skepticism over the 100 combat troops the US deployed to Uganda

The CAR government in December 2010 had asked the UPDF to leave but they are still present in one area. A friend who works in CAR once told me that when they were asking CAR civilians which militia groups are involved in the conflict, some wrote UPDF. This is because the ordinary people on the ground just see people in UPDF uniforms and have no clue who they are and what they are there to do.

The DRC government asked UPDF to leave, at first by May this year but later asked for a calendar showing their withdrawal. I have not heard of the details of this withdraw plan. In some incidents the Congolese Army, which has its own structural problems had clashes with UPDF in DRC which were largely unreported in the media.

One UPDF soldier who has been based in CAR told me early this year that fighting LRA was very difficult because “you have to do surveillance on a jungle bigger than the size of Uganda.”

A researcher in one of the few agencies that still work in Dungu told me that because of the wide area of operation of LRA we must recognize that “military intelligence is more important that military power. Aerial surveillance and ‘human’ intelligence is crucial” if LRA is to be dealt with. And as far we have seen over the years all the four government involved in the fight for LRA have not shown us they are capable of doing the needed surveillance work.

So the question is will this US deployment deliver?

What can 100 combat troops do? Will they deliver several other botched attacks or will they help end the conflict? Well at the end of the day, regional governments must be more willing and give LRA more attention than they have done in the last three years. DRC, South Sudan and CAR must work faster to pacify the lawless regions that have made it easy for LRA to operate for this long. Also the past has shown that focusing only on military intervention will not easily bring back rebels who were forced to carry out all these crimes in the first place.

Those who worry about foreign intervention must equally worry about the deaths and human rights violations that millions of people in the three countries face daily.

The worry is not that the Americans are here -because they have been here for some time. The question is, are they capable of delivering in a short time without staying in the region too long. If the American forces stay in the region too long this will have implications as the suspicions about their interest in oil in Uganda, South Sudan and DRC is already ripe.”

I have written about the Botched raid at the end of 2008 in greater detail: Stability operations cause 900 civilian deaths, 100,000 displaced, miss target. There was an earlier attempt to get Kony with US backing:

Hard Target

“The hunt for joseph kony has been marked by one spectacular failure after another. In 2006, in an unprecedented move, the United Nations mounted a covert operation to capture or kill him. A squad of U.S.-trained Guatemalan Special Ops soldiers set out into Congo’s Garamba National Park, a longtime LRA refuge and the scene of last year’s Operation Lightning Thunder. Trained in jungle warfare and accustomed to surviving in the bush for long stretches, the Guatemalans were equipped with M-16s and the latest special-operations technology. But they were no match for Kony and his child warriors. Makassa recalls the day the Guatemalans appeared. He had left Garamba park briefly to pick up food and supplies in southern Sudan, just across the border. On his way back he got a call: “The situation is bad. Unknown soldiers came to fight us. Hurry up and help us.” The caller described the unknown soldiers as muzungu—a Swahili word meaning “white man.”

By the time Makassa reached the scene, the battle was over. Five LRA soldiers had been killed. But not one of the Guatemalans had survived. The LRA fighters slaughtered them all and, according to one account, beheaded the commander. Some reports put the U.N. dead at eight; others say as many as 40 counterinsurgency troops may have died that morning. The LRA left the corpses in the jungle but took the weapons—including heavy machine guns and grenade launchers.

Kony was in southern Sudan at the time, far from the battle. Makassa called him with the news. “Kony was very happy,” Makassa recalls. “Kony likes fighting, he likes war.’”

DefenseTech writes: U.S. Sending “Combat Equipped” Troops to Africa

“In addition to Uganda, U.S. forces have permission from South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to operate on their territory while helping to hunt down the LRA.

The troops are likely special operations forces and their low numbers reflect the U.S.’ desire to avoid the appearance of neo-colonialism on the continent. The Pentagon routinely deploys forces to Africa to train local militaries … They’re usually sent in small numbers and are special ops troops, often dressed as civilians, who are trained in local languages and customs. Don’t forget all the combat equipped troops who live at Camp Lemonier, in Djibouti. Still, it’s very rare to hear about U.S. forces actively hunting bad guys in Africa. Even when we go after pirates and terrorists in Somalia we usually do it with AC-130 gunships and UAVs. If Americans to hit the ground its usually for the few minutes or hours it takes to kill or capture one of these guys.

In this case, the troops will be directly assisting with a manhunt despite the fact that the White House says they won’t be “engaging” in combat with LRA forces, unless of course, the LRA forces shoot first.”

From military.com news: US Sending Troops to Africa to Battle Insurgency

“The deployment drew support from Sen. James Inhofe, a Republican who has visited the region.

“I have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by the LRA, and this will help end Kony’s heinous acts that have created a human rights crisis in Africa,” he said in a statement. “I have been fervently involved in trying to prevent further abductions and murders of Ugandan children, and today’s action offers hope that the end of the LRA is in sight.”

But Obama’s letter stressed the limited nature of the deployment.

“Our forces will provide information, advice and assistance to select partner nation forces,” it said. “Although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will … not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”

In the comments sgtjmackinjersey writes about how Kony and the LRA really don’t have a political agenda:

“sgtjmackinjersey Oct 15, 2011 12:54:41 AM

… Robert Gersony, in a report funded by United States Embassy in Kampala in 1997, concluded that “the LRA has no political program or ideology, at least none that the local population has heard or can understand.”[31] The International Crisis Group has stated that “the LRA is not motivated by any identifiable political agenda, and its military strategy and tactics reflect this.”[32] IRIN comments that “the LRA remains one of the least understood rebel movements in the world, and its ideology, as far as it has one, is difficult to understand.”[26] UPDF Lt. Col. Shaban Bantariza has said that “you can’t tell whether they want political power. Its only aim is to terrorize and brutalize the civilian population and to loot their homes.””

James Inhofe has been one of the primary enablers of Museveni’s military excesses. As a senator, Inhofe is responsible for the US giving Museveni the dictator enormous amounts of US taxpayer money. Inhofe is a member of the religious cult The Family, which preaches, among other unchristian and undemocratic ideas, that men in positions of power are powerful because God wants them to have power. In other words, might makes right. Might makes right also appears to be the driving ideology of US foreign policy these days, perhaps the Obama doctrine at home and abroad.

AFRICOM has been wooing African journalists from a number of countries. It invited a number of Ugandan journalists to Stuttgart where General Hamm gave this interview which discussed Somalia and the issue of Kony and the LRA.

From Uganda’s Daily Monitor, and interview with General Hamm by Gerald Bareebe.

“After the passage of counter LRA legislation by the US Congress, the US has been helping UPDF with intelligence information regarding the whereabouts of Joseph Kony. How far have you gone with the hunt for Kony?

It’s not going as well as we hope it should be. There are some small successes but there are also some setbacks. So we have a lot of work yet to do in this regard. As you know, this is a hunt for one man with a small number of his followers in a very extensive geographic area. So it’s kind of tough.

It requires very precise information which can be provided by people from his area of operation or from his camp. Ugandans, the Congolese and others may be able to capture him, though the process may be longer than we may want. The US is committed to this because of the horrific atrocities Kony and his groups have committed.

I am encouraged by the commitment of Uganda and Congo to end this. The US role is to be supportive to the three primary countries involved in this and will facilitate the sharing of information by the parties. The USA will not have a leading role on the ground. Uganda, DRC, CAR and South Sudan have recognised that USA will support them to do this.

We have been training a battalion in Eastern Congo for this. It’s a very important mission for us. But we see the US doing a supporting role than a leading role. In my personal view, Kony cannot be brought to justice faster enough.

If anybody had a doubt that there is a real evil in our world, all they have to do is to look at what Joseph Kony has done and they will find out that evil exists in the name of Joseph Kony. The most important thing is that Kony has to be stopped. The preferred way to do this is to capture him and bring him to justice. There are those who would say that he should be killed. In my view he should be captured and be brought to justice but, if in the pursuit of that he is killed, I am not one who would shed many tears.”

I doubt General Hamm will shed any tears for the civilians killed either. They are just unfortunate collateral damage. The US is partnering with people who have caused enormous suffering in the region.  All the military organizations included are implicated in war crimes, particularly in the eastern Congo.  There is no reason to suppose things will improve.  There is no accountability built in to this action.   Kony is said to have made some friends in the region. There is also corruption always present. In 2008 Kony was tipped off by someone who knew about Operation Lightning Thunder.

And from comment #6 at MoA by b real

“public announcements like this cover operations already in progress that will eventually draw media attention at some point, esp considering uganda’s burgeoning oil industry. considering the last u.s. effort to kill kony failed so spectacularly, the military is re-adapting its existing policies of majority reliance on proxy, surrogate & merc forces in pursuing its own interests across africa. whereas only a handful of boots on the ground to assist in operations is proving ineffective in realizing larger objectives (namely resource “stabilization” and/or removal of resistance to political and commercial designs), utilization of more boots on the ground in actual fighting capacity appears to be the future. this correlates w/ africom getting a boot-in-the-door and the inevitable scope/mission creep that inevitably follows. for instance, as i said in another thread, don’t be surprised to see u.s. boots on the ground waging battle in somalia.

maybe 1,000 villagers were killed in the 2009 campaign – expect a higher body count from this next one”

The Acholi religous leaders feel the same about the military approach. Military attacks and reprisals only result in more bloodshed.

Response of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) to the ” Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009″

“Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Kitgum Office, Plot 121 Uhuru Drive, P.O. Box 185, Kitgum, Uganda
Pader Office, 1st Street, P.O. Box 50, Pader, Uganda
Gulu Office, Plot 16 Olya Road, P.O. Box 104, Gulu,Uganda
21st June 2009

For over two decades, war between the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda (GoU) has ravaged the region of north and northeastern Uganda causing great suffering among the civilian population. Over the last number of years, the conflict has unfortunately spread to the Southern Sudan, DR Congo and Central African Republic. While several methods have been employed to bring and end to the conflict, all have failed to reach their goal of realizing peace.

To address this issue the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009″ was introduced to the U.S. Senate on May 19th, 2009, detailing the way in which the United States wishes to engage with the conflict.

We the Acholi Religious Leaders Initiative (ARLPI) who have been tirelessly working to bring about sustainable peace and reconciliation throughout the region, wish to express our gratitude for the continued interest and support the U.S. has shown towards ending the suffering of those affected. Their support to initiatives such as the Juba Peace talks and the provision of humanitarian aid during the course of the conflict has not gone unnoticed. Such contributions have significantly improved the conditions in the region.

Of particular concern of bill however is Section 4: Requirement of a Regional Strategy for Disarming the LRA. This section implies that a military offensive may be immanent. The military option has been explored numerous times in the past, notably Operation North (1991), Operation Iron Fist (2002) and Operation Lightning Thunder (2008-2009).

Experience shows that despite such attempts to end the conflict, only dialogue can be attributed to the relative calm experienced in Northern Uganda since July of 2006 Military strategies launched against the LRA have time and again led to severe reprisal attacks on the innocent civilian community as illustrated by the recent 900 civilian deaths during Operation Lightning Thunder.

Not only has the cost of the military option been expensive regarding the loss of human life, the financial implications of war are also immense. The large sums of money required to carry out war drain the resources needed to bring about development and reconstruction of affected areas.

In conclusion, we applaud the commitment of the bill to bring about stability and development in the region. However, we as the Acholi religious leaders whose primary concern is the preservation of human life, advocate for dialogue and other non-violent strategies to be employed so that long term sustainable peace may be realized. Let us learn from the past experiences where we have seen that violence only breeds more violence.

Sincerely,

Archbishop John Baptist Odama
Al Hajji Sheik Musa Khalil
Rt. Rev. Bishop Nelson Onono
Rt. Rev. Bishop Benjamin Ojwang
Rt. Rev. Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola II
Fr. Julius Orach
Bishop Sabino Odoki”

Here is the text of President Obama’s announcement:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 14, 2011
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE
October 14, 2011
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)For more than two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men,women, and children in central Africa. The LRA continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security. Since 2008, the United States has supported regional military efforts to pursue the LRA and protect local communities. Even with some limited U.S. assistance, however, regional military efforts have thus far been unsuccessful in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony or his top commanders from the battlefield. In the Lord’s ResistanceArmy Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Public Law 111-172, enacted May 24, 2010, the Congress also expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability. In furtherance of the Congress’s stated policy, I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield. I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa. On October 12, the initial team of U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment deployed to Uganda. During the next month, additional forces will deploy, including a second combat-equipped team and associated headquarters, communications, and logistics personnel. The total number of U.S. military personnel deploying for this mission is approximately 100. These forces will act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA. Our forces will provide information,advice, and assistance to select partner nation forces. Subject to the approval of each respective host nation, elements of these U.S. forces will deploy into Uganda, South Sudan, the CentralAfrican Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.The support provided by U.S. forces will enhance regional efforts against the LRA. However, although the U.S. forces arecombat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense. All appropriate precautions have been taken to ensure the safetyof U.S. military personnel during their deployment. I have directed this deployment, which is in the nationalsecurity and foreign policy interests of the United States,pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreignrelations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. I am making this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congressfully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (PublicLaw 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.
Sincerely,
BARACK OBAMA

To conclude, this bit of hiphop poetry from FURF1387 in the comments at the military.com article quoted above, is right on the mark:

FURF1387
Oct 15, 2011 10:35:44 AM
“100 here….100 there….100 a day to keep the barbarians at bay….100 a day reinforcing legions far away…the Republic at home begins to sway…unity oozes day by day…citizens won’t labor without circus & play…besides outsiders do the dirty work for much less pay… the empire spreads and melts away…AH, but that’s all a story from some ancient day…in some ol’ galaxy, far, far away…no need to fear…100 away..100 a day…100 there…100 HERE…no longer.”

 

________
________

 

Added February 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
DOD To Equip Uganda Forces In Bid To Destroy Rebel Forces

U.S. Africa Command is set to begin a new security assistance program in East Africa that aims to bolster the ability of Uganda’s military to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group that for more than 20 years has terrorized civilians.

Congress has lifted a hold it placed earlier this month on a Defense Department proposal to begin a new program to provide Ugandan defense forces with counterterrorism training and equipment, according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James Gregory.

The project, part of a second batch of so-called Section 1206 security assistance programs drawn up by the Defense and State departments, is designed to “provide communications and intelligence training as well as communications and engineering equipment to improve Uganda’s ability to remove LRA leadership and fighters from the battlefield,” according to Gregory. The project has a price tag of $4.4 million, he said.

During testimony before Congress this spring, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of AFRICOM, singled out the Lord’s Resistance Army as a “scourge” and an example of a transnational extremist threat to security on the continent. “In order for Africa Command to reduce threats to our citizens and interests, both abroad and at home, we need to contribute to operations, programs and activities that help African states provide for their own security in a manner that is consistent with the rule of law and international norms,” Ham told the House Armed Services Committee on April 5.

In May 2010, the President Obama signed into law the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, which required that the executive branch draw up a strategy to support multilateral efforts to protect civilians from the LRA, to apprehend or remove the LRA leader Joseph Kony, and to disarm and demobilize LRA fighters.

On Nov. 24, 2010, Obama transmitted the strategy to lawmakers with a letter explaining that it would guide “U.S. support across the region to mitigate and eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.” The strategy consists of four objectives, one of which is to “apprehend or remove from the battlefield Joseph Kony and senior commanders.”

A State Department assessment on Uganda calls the Lord’s Resistance Army, which aims to overthrow the East African country’s government, “vicious and cult-like.” Between 1986 and 2006 the group is believed to have kidnapped thousands of children to serve as soldiers and slaves, according to the State Department. Its primary targets are civilians, especially women and children, according to a Congressional Research Service report. “Human rights abuses committed by the LRA include murder, mutilation, abduction of young women for sexual servitude, and kidnapping of children to become rebel fighters,” according to the State Department.

In 2005, the Ugandan forces drove the LRA out of the country. Since then, the rebel group has operated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Sudan and the Central African Republic and is responsible for displacing nearly 2 million people, according to the State Department. For more than two years the governments of Uganda, Congo and Southern Sudan have waged joint military operations against the LRA in northeastern Congo.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon was cleared by Congress to spend as much as $123.3 million on similar projects in Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Uganda, Burundi, Oman, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Maldives and the Philippines (DefenseAlert, July 19).

Those projects, along with the new Uganda security assistance effort and a first batch of 1206 efforts to enhance the capabilities of Eastern European nations preparing to deploy to Afghanistan begun in April, require $159.3 million, comprising nearly half of the available funds for such programs — which are very popular with combatant commanders — in this fiscal year.

The FY-11 Defense Authorization Act granted $350 million for Section 1206 projects, including $75 million for stability operations. Congress, which first authorized Section 1206 projects in FY-06, permits spending on these programs for two purposes: to enhance partner nations’ counterterrorism and stability operations and bolster foreign maritime security forces for counterterrorism. — Jason Sherman

The US ambassador to Tripoli tells US companies: “oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources”. Total victory promises 35% of Libyan oil concessions to the French oil company Total.

Assault on Sirte, the Libya map as of October 8, 2011 (WSJ)

[This] is the first time that the UN Security Council explicitly gave the green light … to armed intervention against a sovereign State … and that its secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, played an active role in unleashing hostilities.

intervention has never been, and will never be, anything other than the intervention of the strong in the affairs of the weak

The action by the UN against Libya threatens the people and countries of every continent. When will the “international community” want our resources, and what will they do to us to get them? Who in my country may be coopted by them?

NATO forces arrayed against Libya. (WSJ)

Total victory

The pun is easy but unavoidable, especially since Libération published the letter in which the National Transitional Council (NTC) promised to grant 35% of concessions to the French petroleum giant Total “in exchange” (the term used) for French military engagement (a document which naturally triggered a hasty denial from the Quai d’Orsay). The fight for freedom is such a noble cause. The author nevertheless concluded his article by taking note of “the strong odor of petroleum hanging over the whole business.”

It is by themselves — and never from the outside — that peoples gain their freedom.

Beyond the case of Libya, that is the point, the most essential, which deserves to be discussed among all those who adhere to the right of peoples to decide their own destiny — what used to be called anti-imperialism.

Used to be? In fact, it was so up until the fall of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact opened the way to the reconquest of the entire planet by capitalism, its dominations and its imperial rivalries. And that left no other choice to countries except to align themselves with the canons of “human rights,” the “rule of law,” and the “market economy” — three terms which have become synonymous — or else find themselves under fire from the cannons of the planetary policemen shamelessly calling themselves the “international community.”

Granted, when it comes to armed intervention against a sovereign State, the so-called “international community” is no beginner. But it is the first time that the UN Security Council explicitly gave the green light, and that its secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, played an active role in unleashing hostilities. The full implications of such a situation need to be weighed: the brutal challenge to the sovereignty of States has been legalized — even if not legitimatized. The dominant planetary oligarchies, whose final horizon is “world governance” without borders, have thereby scored a major point: interventionism (“preventive” at that, according to Mr. Luck) can henceforth be the rule.

This conception, which explicitly contradicts the United Nations Charter, is a time bomb: it undermines the very foundations on which it was written and could mean a veritable return to barbarism in international relations.

For there is one obvious truth that should never be forgotten: intervention has never been, and will never be, anything other than the intervention of the strong in the affairs of the weak. The respect for sovereignty in international relations is what the equal vote is to citizenship: certainly no absolute guarantee, far from it, but a substantial asset against the law of the jungle. The latter is what could very well take over the world stage.
from: Libya: NATO Provides the Bombs; The French “Left” Provides the Ideology by Pierre Lévy

You cannot bomb a country into democracy, but of course democracy was never the true objective in Libya, no matter how humanitarian the justifications and rationalizations for the blatant aggression.

In the Wall Street Journal:

TRIPOLI, Libya—Six weeks after the fall of Tripoli, the palmy days of rebel unity have begun to disintegrate into a spiral of infighting, political jockeying and even the occasional violent flare-up threatening to derail Libya’s post-Gadhafi transition.

This is what everyone who knew anything about Libya predicted. Libya, with it multitude of factions and arms could devolve similar to Somalia.

US Ambassador Cretz appears to have a tin ear for the language of imperialism. Jewel in the crown was the part India played in Britain’s global empire. This is just one more indication of how naked and blatant the imperial aggression against Libya has been.
From the NYT:

Ambassador Gene A. Cretz … participated in a State Department conference call with about 150 American companies hoping to do business with Libya.

“We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources, … “If we can get American companies here on a fairly big scale, which we will try to do everything we can to do that, then this will redound to improve the situation in the United States with respect to our own jobs.”

His remarks were a rare nod to the tacit economic stakes in the Libyan conflict for the United States and other Western countries, not only because of Libya’s oil resources but also because of the goods and services those resources enable it to purchase.

Oil was never the “predominant reason” for the American intervention, Mr. Cretz said, but his comments … underlined the American eagerness for a cut of any potential profits.

The entire intervention against Libya was driven by potential profits. Pierre Lévy quotes a 2007 speech by Sarkozy:


“Europe is today the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization. … America and China have already begun the conquest of Africa. How long will Europe wait to build the Africa of tomorrow?
While Europe hesitates, others advance.”

Not wanting to be left behind, Dominique Strauss-Kahn around the same time expressed his desire for a Europe stretching “from the cold ice of the Arctic in the North to the hot sands of the Sahara in the South (. . .) and that Europe, I believe, if it continues to exist, will have reconstituted the Mediterranean as an internal sea, and will have reconquered the space that the Romans, or Napoleon more recently, attempted to consolidate.”

And Lévy reminds us:

After years of being subjected to embargo and treated as a pariah, Colonel Kadhafi undertook the rapprochement mentioned above with the West, which notably took the form in December 2003 of an official renunciation of any nuclear arms program in exchange for guarantees of non-aggression promised specifically by Washington. Eight years later, there is no getting around the fact that that commitment lasted only up until the day when they felt they now had reasons to trample it under foot. Suddenly, in the four corners of the earth everyone can measure the worth of the word given by the powerful and just how much they value the commitments they have made.

Sarkozy speaks in the voice of previous centuries, when Europe would supposedly bring the three Cs to Africa, Christianity, civilization, and commerce, with the unlimited arrogance to call Europe “the only force capable of carrying forward a project of civilization“. European and American development has been financed for centuries by Africa. France would have been a minor player in international affairs without the wealth of Africa. The west owes Africa for western development, instead it plans returning to take more. The doctrine of the self styled “international community”, the US and Western Europe, is our old nemesis: might makes right.

… the US does not have any positive or credible tradition of genuine assistance to freedom fighters and liberation movements in Africa.

Just as the US military carried out psychological warfare against US senators, one of the tasks of Africom is to rain down psychological warfare on Africans. Built in this subtle psychological warfare is the concept of the hierarchy of human beings and the superiority of the capitalist mode of production and ideas of Christian fundamentalism. It is on this front that we find a section of the US military known as the “Crusaders.” (Horace Campbell)

Ivory Coast and Libya in red, Sudan, Eritrea, and Zimbabwe in orange, these five countries are the only countries left in Africa that do not have partnerships, with AFRICOM. Ivory Coast and Libya already have active rebellions sponsored by the West, US, UK, France, and NATO.

Two [Ivory Coast and Libya] of only five [Ivory Coast, Libya, Sudan, Eritrea and Zimbabwe] African nations that have not entered into individual and regional partnerships with the Pentagon through AFRICOM are the targets of violent uprisings aimed at toppling their governments and installing client regimes subservient to the U.S. and its NATO allies. Eritrea, Zimbabwe and a truncated Sudan will be left. And will be next. (Rick Rozoff)

Both Libya and Ivory Coast are already subject to western invasion, bombs and black ops in Libya, and attack helicopters, troops, mercenaries, and massacres in Ivory Coast. The United States forced the timing and the execution of the elections in Sudan that called for partition. The US has been demonizing Eritrea for some time, and accusing it of arming Somalia, although most of the arms in Somalia come in courtesy of the US. Zimbabwe’s Mugabe has been demonized for years.

On April 5 the chairman of the African Union, Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, condemned French military operations in fellow West African nation Ivory Coast and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s war against Libya, stating: “Africa does not need any external influence. Africa must manage its own affairs.”

Though hardly a model of a democratic ruler, having come to power in a coup d’etat in 1979 and governed his nation uninterruptedly since, Obiang Nguema is the current head of the 53-nation African Union and his comments stand on their own regardless of their source.

In fact Obieng retains his position in large part because he is propped up by AFRICOM and US military contractors such as MPRI. He is one of the most cruel despots in the world, stealing the wealth of his country and his people, and leaving them with little or nothing. His words are still true, and should apply to himself as well.

Obieng “Each foreigner is susceptible to proposing erroneous solutions. African problems cannot be resolved with a European, American or Asian view.”

Only 30 months after becoming an independent command, AFRICOM has consolidated military-to-military relations with 50 African nations, including non-African Union member Morocco and the world’s newest state, South Sudan. Changes in government in Ivory Coast and Libya would add two more countries to that column.

Just as the 1884-1885 Berlin Conference divided the African continent into spheres of influence between the major European powers and the U.S., with Ivory Coast belonging to France and Libya later taken by Italy, so now the U.S. and all the major former European colonial masters, who are now fellow NATO member states – France, Britain, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Turkey – are again planning to establish dominance over what has become the world’s second most populous continent. (Rick Rozoff

_________

Just as the US military carried out psychological warfare against US senators, one of the tasks of Africom is to rain down psychological warfare on Africans. Built in this subtle psychological warfare is the concept of the hierarchy of human beings and the superiority of the capitalist mode of production and ideas of Christian fundamentalism. It is on this front that we find a section of the US military known as the “Crusaders.”

Horace Campbell puts together information from speeches and articles, and tells us about the Crusaders:

… these Crusaders are bent on intensifying a war against Islam, and see themselves as protectors of Christianity. … these neoconservative elements dominate the top echelons of the US military, including figures such as former commander of US forces in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Vice Admiral William McRaven. These crusaders have held American foreign policy hostage. Hersh said, “What I’m really talking about is how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over.”
… a lengthy report that placed General David Petraeus at the heart of the Crusaders.

Not only do these Crusaders have control over the US military, they are also linked with a faction of the Catholic Church called “Opus Dei,” an arch conservative order that has links with international banking, finance, militarism, and intelligence formations. Besides Opus Dei, one finds the fundamentalist evangelicals in the US, who are linked to the forces of Islamophobia and corporate elements. One crucial figure in this world of neoconservative militarist was Dick Cheney, former US vice president and chairperson of Halliburton. It is worth noting that it was from Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (former Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush) that the idea for United States Africa Command originated.

Many of these Crusaders are overt white supremacists.
The careers of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and their corporate allies in the Carlyle Group, General Electric and Cerebrus spawn a world-wide web of conservative militarists, politicians, intellectuals and capitalists. These crusaders do not only disdain other cultures and religions, they have little or no regards for people of color.

For some time, there have been open disagreements within the military between these Crusaders and another section of the military called the “Rocks.”
Originally, the “Rocks” were formed by senior officers in the military who are non-whites. Colin Powell first wrote of the existence of the Rocks in the US military in his book, My American Journey. Although the narrative on equal opportunity in the US military has been part of the public discourse in the US, these officers faced discrimination and felt left out of the “white old boy networks” in the military. … these black army officers chafed as they saw their counterparts rising to the highest ranks and going through the revolving door of the military industrial complex and private military contractors.

Although the Rocks started out among the ranks of officers of color, by the time Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld intensified the politicization of the military, decent officers who were not crusaders identified with one philosophy of the Rocks: that the military should not be used for the interest of private capital. Many of the rank and file who learnt of the treatment of former servicemen after their tour of duty became Rocks, so that today the Army at its core e is dominated by the Rocks.

… the billionaire Koch Brothers stand out as a formidable financial backbone of crusade activism.

… In the New Yorker magazine we were treated to a very detailed analysis of the neoconservative war by Jane Mayer, Covert Operations: The Billionaire Brothers Who Are At War with Obama.

In the Bush years, the Crusaders conceptualized the US as being in a permanent global war, using the phrase, “global war on terror” (GWOT), to justify their link to particular factions of Wall Street and the manipulation of national security for political and capital ends. …

For a short while when the book, Dark Sahara, by Jeremy Keenan exposed the fabrication of terrorism in North Africa, the Crusaders temporarily retreated. When the Free Officers Movement from Algeria (MAOL) corroborated some of the information that had been outlined in the book by Keenan, the Crusaders toned down the language on Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and instead focused on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. However, with the sweep of revolution across Yemen and the downgrading of the importance of the bogy of terrorism in Yemen, the forward planners inside the Pentagon decided to go all out to rehabilitate Africom in the service of the Crusaders.

In the face of the public opposition from African thinkers and opinion makers, the forward planners for the Crusaders moved to spend money among struggling academics to promote an ideological onslaught to legitimize the United States Africa Command. Beside this intense work among social scientists, the forward planners among the Crusaders decided to employ the services of propaganda firms to fan the flames of Islamophobia in Africa. Africom has embarked on a massive public relations campaign to sell itself as a force for humanitarianism and development in Africa. Hence, for the past two years, almost all aspects of the United States foreign policy in Africa have been subordinated to the Pentagon. Essentially, with the force of only 1,500, Africom serves to hand out contract to private military contractors. … These licenses are granted through the State Department so that the US Africa Command gets the contract for training African armies and then there is subcontracting to firms such as Dyncorp, one of the most energetic of the military contractors in Africa. DynCorp, essentially private army is now owned by Cerberus, one of the largest private equity investment firms in the United States.

… The posture statement of the United States Africa Command declares that, Africom “contributes to increasing security and stability in Africa—allowing African states and regional organizations to promote democracy, to expand development, to provide for their common defense, and to better serve their people. “ However, as the relationship with the dictator Obiang exposes, Africom is more concerned with the stability and security of US petroleum interests in Equatorial Guinea than with the democratic rights of the people.

The use of private capitalist armies by the US military crusaders in the Middle East has peaked in Iraq and Afghanistan, hence the consolidation of their market frontier in Africa.

The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt shocked the Crusaders and they calculated on how to make a move to gain the support from the US society and consolidate Africom. The debate over saving civilians in Libya provided the best opportunity, and Barack Obama opened the door to strengthening the crusaders – the very forces who do not believe that Obama was born in the USA.

… The Crusaders waited for the moment to bring back their public push for Africom. And they seized it.

AFRICOM is the tool of acquisitive neocolonial crusaders, the most racist and reactionary elements in the US military. Their PR campaigns feature lots of photo-op good deeds, builidng roads, digging wells, painting schools. The soldiers who do these jobs are generally good hearted decent people. As Campbell points out, few are acquainted with the history of US military involvement in Africa. We need to remember that history and avoid continuing it.

The US was complicit in the planning of the murder of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, after which they propped up the monstrous dictator Mobutu Sese Seko who raped and pillaged the country and established a recursive process of war, rape, plunder, corruption, and brutality which the Congo still suffers from till today. Jonas Savimbi was sponsored by the US to cause destabilization and terror in Angola. The US gave military, material and moral support to the apartheid regime in South Africa while anti-apartheid freedom fighters, including Nelson Mandela, were designated as terrorists. … The US has yet to tell the truth about how Charles Taylor escaped from its prison custody in Massachusetts to go destabilize Liberia.

Read Campbell’s entire article: US Military and Africom: Between the rocks and the crusaders

After reading that read his more recent article: Libya must not be partitioned. Partitioning Libya is exactly what the big oil companies are seeking. The neocolonialists are seeking to repartition Africa according to their current competition for resources. And as in the previous scramble for Africa they are trying to portray their rapacious acquisition as humanitarian.

The raging debates at the highest levels of the US National Security establishment and various interests within NATO over the current military ‘stalemate’ in Libya conceals an even more competitive effort on the ground in Libya by petroleum interests who are keen on dividing up the territory to ensure access to the vast oil resources of Libya. At the forefront of this aggressive partitioning effort is the French military, political and oil establishment that has not only recognised the transitional government in Benghazi but has also been the most pushy on advancing military options even in the face of opposition from other NATO members such as Germany, Greece, Spain and Turkey.

I also recommend Mamdani’s article: Libya: behind the politics of humanitarian intervention.

Iraq and Afghanistan teach us that humanitarian intervention does not end with the removal of the danger it purports to target. It only begins with it.

Having removed the target, the intervention grows and turns into the real problem. This is why to limit the discussion of the Libyan intervention to its stated rationale – saving civilian lives – is barely scratching the political surface.

The UN process is notable for two reasons. First, the resolution was passed with a vote of 10 in favour and five abstaining. The abstaining governments – Russia, China, India, Brazil, Germany – represent the vast majority of humanity.

The second thing notable about the UN process is that though the Security Council is central to the process of justification, it is peripheral to the process of execution.

You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. (Pepe Escobar 4/2/11)

Why would the ouster of Qaddafi be such a high priority for the United States? One reason could be that Qaddafi has been leading a Pan-African movement under the auspices of the African Union, similar to the unification effort spearheaded by Hugo Chavez in South America. Libya’s oil revenues have played a large role in supporting Qaddafi’s African initiative, which aims for Africa’s economic empowerment by breaking the vestiges of European economic control of Africa. This is a key reason why Qaddafi enjoys varying degrees of popularity in what is sometimes called “Black Africa.” (Imam Zaid Shakir)

Some of the countries in Africa given an assist by Libya (click to enlarge enough to read)

original graphic here

Nov 24, 2010 (Reuters) – Libya is using money from oil exports to pour aid and investment into its African neighbours, a policy which diplomats and analysts say gives it increasing political clout on the continent.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said earlier this year he was offering to invest $97 billion in the continent to free it from Western influence, on condition that African states rid themselves of corruption and nepotism.

Libya is one of the biggest contributors to the budget of the African Union, the 53-country body which is supposed to function along the lines of the European Union. A senior Libyan diplomat told Reuters Libya is one of five countries — the others are Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa — which cover 75 percent of the union’s budget.

BCA March 15, 2011. By 2002, subsidiaries of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), had accumulated or extended investments in at least 31 countries throughout Africa. The largest investments were in Zambian telecommunications firm Zamtel ($394 million) and in oil storage and pipeline infrastructure linking Moanda to Matadi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (around $300 million). (h/t MoA)

So what exactly is going on? Here’s the deal:

You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations independently confirmed that Washington, via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave the go-ahead for Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy movement in their neighbor in exchange for a “yes” vote by the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya – the main rationale that led to United Nations Security Council resolution 1973.

The revelation came from two different diplomats, a European and a member of the BRIC group, and was made separately to a US scholar and Asia Times Online.

… only nine out of 22 members of the Arab League voted for the no-fly zone. The vote was essentially a House of Saud-led operation, with Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa keen to polish his CV with Washington with an eye to become the next Egyptian President.

Thus, in the beginning, there was the great 2011 Arab revolt. Then, inexorably, came the US-Saudi counter-revolution.

Exposed, above all, is the astonishing hypocrisy of the Obama administration, selling a crass geopolitical coup involving northern Africa and the Persian Gulf as a humanitarian operation. As for the fact of another US war on a Muslim nation, that’s just a “kinetic military action”. (Pepe Escobar 4/2/11)

This all fits into the big picture:

In the big picture, the combined role of the Pentagon global tentacles falls under the Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, which aims to prevent any developing nation, or group of nations, from establishing alliances or preferential relationships with both China and Russia. (Pepe Escobar 3/24/11)

I would add that it is not just ties with Russia and China that are the target of full spectrum dominance, it is any south south ties that would strengthen the power of the developing world and its ability to control its own development and destiny. The Pentagon wishes to prevent ties among the countries of Africa, unless they function through its Africa Command. And they also wish to prevent African ties with Brazil and India, who along with Russia and China comprise the BRIC countries.

In the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski:

… the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.

And as Mahmood Mamdani points out:

War furthers many interests. Each war is a laboratory for testing the next generation of weapons. It is well known that the Iraq war led to more civilian than military victims.

The debate then was over whether or not these casualties were intended. In Libya, the debate is over facts. It points to the fact that the US and NATO are perfecting a new generation of weapons, weapons meant for urban warfare, weapons designed to minimise collateral damage.

The objective is to destroy physical assets with minimum cost in human lives. The cost to the people of Libya will be of another type. The more physical assets are destroyed, the less sovereign will be the next government in Libya.

The more a country’s physical assets are destroyed, the less sovereign that country will be, anywhere, any country. This is a great convenience for those who wish to exploit the natural resources of that country.

The West has tried to marginalize the African Union before, in Darfur:

For a time the African Union was able to stabilize the situation, … The European Union, who paid the troop salaries, began to withhold funds on grounds of accountability, and it gradually killed off the peacekeeping operations. … “There is a concerted attempt being made to shift the political control of any intervention force … from inside Africa to outside Africa.” In other words, the U.S. and Europe are eager to control the dynamic of what happens in Africa and not allow an indigenous, inter-state agency to gain either the experience this would provide or the respect it would gain if it succeeds. The African Union has been undermined so that only the U.S. can appear as the savior.

Prof. Sam Hamod believes that undermining the African Union is the main goal of the US/NATO assault on Libya. He writes:

… one of the major reasons the US and EU want to get rid of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi. It’s not about “human rights.” That is a cover — they want to stop Qaddafi’s money that is going to form and support the African Union.

Without Qaddafi’s money, there will be no money for African Union peace-keeping forces, no major unity in Africa and no power to stop the continued colonialism of America and the EU from advancing further into Africa.

This is about not only the EU’s desire to control Libyan “sweet crude,” but also about the West’s attempt at stopping the full development of the African Union.

The reports are now public that the US had CIA boots on the ground in LIbya before the military action, that Obama authorized this secretly several weeks ago, and that the rebel leader has longstanding ties to the CIA. He has been living near Langley in Virginia for years. And he doesn’t just live near Langley, he has CIA ties going back to 1987.

A CIA commander for the Libyan rebels
The agency was very familiar with Hifter’s military and political work. A Washington Post report of March 26, 1996 describes an armed rebellion against Gaddafi in Libya and uses a variant spelling of his name. The article cites witnesses to the rebellion who report that “its leader is Col. Khalifa Haftar, of a contra-style group based in the United States called the Libyan National Army.”

A 2001 book, Manipulations africaines, published by Le Monde diplomatique , traces the CIA connection even further back, to 1987, reporting that Hifter, then a colonel in Gaddafi’s army, was captured fighting in Chad in a Libyan-backed rebellion against the US-backed government of Hissène Habré. He defected to the Libyan National Salvation Front (LNSF), the principal anti-Gaddafi group, which had the backing of the American CIA. He organized his own militia, which operated in Chad until Habré was overthrown by a French-supported rival, Idriss Déby, in 1990.

According to this book, “the Haftar force, created and financed by the CIA in Chad, vanished into thin air with the help of the CIA shortly after the government was overthrown by Idriss Déby.” The book also cites a Congressional Research Service report of December 19, 1996 that the US government was providing financial and military aid to the LNSF and that a number of LNSF members were relocated to the United States.

For more on who is sponsoring the rebels, with information on the British and French involvement as well see:
Who are the Libyan Freedom Fighters and Their Patrons?

So far the rebel forces don’t amount to much. If there is to be a war of rebellion, it will have to be entirely created by the United states, recruiting, arming, and training. The rebels are measured in the hundreds, not thousands:

The rebels are comprised of drivers, teachers, businessmen and other inexperienced fighters striving to shift from being protesters to infantry riflemen.

There is a small group of so-called Special Forces who appear to lead the rebels’ efforts at building a military operation, but they’re only slightly better equipped and trained than the great mass of anti-Gadhafi fighters.

The inexperience is evident: Many, if not most, rebels flee when actual fighting begins. Without allied airstrikes — there were none here on Tuesday — there is no moving forward.

The closer the sounds, the more panicked they became. The flank on the ridge collapsed in minutes as the rebels drove back. Most it turned out had no intention of fighting when it mattered.

Qaddafi is always problematic, even while saying and doing things that are of great benefit, his other words and actions make one cringe. But one can dislike Qaddafi and still understand Libya is a sovereign country.

Certainly, Qaddafi is no angel – likewise Slobodan Milošević and Saddam Hussein were guilty of despotism, crimes against humanity and more. But those who make such charges miss the irony of their rhetoric, given that they support the unbridled use of violence by far more powerful military forces against largely civilian populations, leading to death tolls that far exceed those committed by the puppet dictators they seek to overthrow. That these dictators and despots committed their own atrocities with weapons supplied by Western nations is never mentioned, for doing so would lay bare their hypocrisy. “We must kill to avoid killing,” is the ideology they promote, oblivious to the inherent contradiction that lies within.

And of course, there’s little mention of the genuinely brutal oppression in places like Bahrain, where the Saudi military were called in to massacre protesters there, or the recent outbreak of airstrikes and incursions into Gaza by the IDF over the weekend. Because they’re our “allies” and their crimes – like our own – are completely permissible.
(Andy Dilks)

Libya has the largest estimated oil reserves of any African country. It is also the former home of a US military base, and the US would really like to start basing its Africa Command in Africa.

Qaddafi’s Pan-African effort coincides with the rising economic role of China in Africa. Since 2001, trade between Africa and China has increased from $10 billion to more than $110 billion. The United States has noticed the growing influence of Libya and China in Africa and has responded, in part, by establishing a new American military command for Africa (AFRICOM) in 2006. A critical objective of AFRICOM is to unite the continent’s 53 countries into a unified, pro-American strategic and economic zone, which would involve both regime changes and “humanitarian” interventions to stabilize the continent. Some critics of U.S. policy in Africa say the ultimate objective of AFRICOM is to ensure that America—and not China—becomes the principal foreign beneficiary of Africa’s tremendous wealth.

To date, no African nation has agreed to serve as the hosting country for AFRICOM’s primary base. All of that could change with the emergence of a post-Qaddafi regime in Libya that owes its existence to the US-led intervention. It should be noted that Libya was the home of Wheelus Air Base, the largest American military installation in Africa, before the coup orchestrated by Qaddafi against King Idris in 1969.

While nationalization significantly curtailed the development of Libya’s petroleum and gas resources, Qaddafi has sought to expand exploration and production in partnership with major western oil companies in recent years. The Libyan national oil company, however, still controls the terms of trade, which most western companies view as prohibitive. Western energy companies consider Libya a risky investment climate and are seeking better terms from the Libyan regime. Optimal terms [for the west] could only be obtained by something similar to an “Iraq oil law,” which remains unlikely in Libya while the Qaddafi-led regime is in power. A regime change is likely viewed by many foreign firms as a means to completely opening up access to Libya’s petrochemical resources.

For France, the conflict in Libya offers an opportunity to reassert its control over Niger’s uranium deposits, a critical goal for a country that relies on nuclear power as its primary source of electricity. For decades, France had a monopoly over Niger’s uranium production. Today, France still imports 40% of its uranium from Niger, where it is currently completing the world’s largest uranium mine. (Imam Zaid Shakir)

Humanitarian intervention, particularly the military version, is seldom humanitarian.

Iraq and Afghanistan teach us that humanitarian intervention does not end with the removal of the danger it purports to target.

It only begins with it. Having removed the target, the intervention grows and turns into the real problem. This is why to limit the discussion of the Libyan intervention to its stated rationale – saving civilian lives – is barely scratching the political surface. (Mahmood Mamdani)

Charles Onyango-Obbo in No-fly zone strikes terror in African leaders’ hearts, courtesy of Roger Pociask, discusses the reaction to the assault on Libya from African leaders. Some of them are experiencing a bit of buyers remorse, particularly Nigeria and South Africa who helped approve UN Resolution 1973. He says the public reaction of African leaders can be guaged by how much money they receive from the US. Even so, pro-US leaders feel that the US and NATO have overstepped their authority and are seeking regime change. In West Africa particularly, there is fear of the spillover of violence from Libya into nearby countries.

Some thinkers I have read recently think that the fall of Qaddafi and the end of his financial support will mean the end of Pan-Africanism. Others think that this deliberate assault on Libya will create a resurgence of Pan-African activism. I see signs in a number of places that a resurgence is already underway. The assault on Libya may well strengthen resolve and expand Pan-African efforts.

The US Africa Command is now at war on the continent of Africa. And not surprising, the war is about oil.

“R2P” – Responsibility to Protect – is the Obama regime’s favored formula for pouring mud in the otherwise clear waters of international law. The philosophy – actually, a political position seeking legal recognition – amounts to a kind of super-power judicial waiver couched in the language of nobles oblige, the obligation of the strong to help the weak. In the real world, the strong only help themselves – in this case, to Libya’s oil reserves, the largest in Africa. (Glen Ford)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA - Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn on March 19, 2011. This was one of approximately 110 cruise missiles fired from U.S. and British ships and submarines that targeted about 20 radar and anti-aircraft sites along Libya's Mediterranean coast. Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. UNSCR 1973 authorizes "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Qadhafi regime forces. JTF Odyssey Dawn is commanded by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Pappas) (20110320132841)

The US is starting its war from its seabase, as in the pictures above.

Libya is among the World’s largest oil economies with approximately 3.5% of global oil reserves, more than twice those of the US.

An invasion of Libya under a humanitarian mandate would serve the same corporate interests as the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. The underlying objective is to take possession of Libya’s oil reserves, destabilize the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and eventually privatize the country’s oil industry, namely transfer the control and ownership of Libya’s oil wealth into foreign hands.

Libya is a Prize Economy. “War is good for business”. Oil is the trophy of US-NATO led wars.

Wall Street, the Anglo-American oil giants, the US-EU weapons producers would be the unspoken beneficiaries of a US-NATO led military campaign directed against Libya. (Michel Chossudovsky)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA - Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Fremen, with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, calibrates the forward looking infrared (FLIR) system of a MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn, March 19, 2011. The FLIR system allows pilots a 360-degree view of the area surrounding the helicopter. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Scott Pittman) (20110320131427)

here was francis boyle on the kpfa program letters and politics friday morning (starting at 18:20 in)

if you read the [UN] resolution carefully, effectively it authorizes all-out warfare by the United States, Britain, France, any NATO states that want to join in against Libya, basically to steal their oil. I really think that’s what’s going on here….

It authorizes air strikes, drone strikes, cruise missile attacks on ground targets. The only thing that is expressly excluded is a foreign military occupation force, but that is a carefully drafted distinction from an invading force. When the United States invaded Haiti in 1994 it had 24,000 troops there in Haiti. We always maintained that this was
not a foreign military occupation force. So there is legally a distinction between invading and occupying. So technically, under this resolution, even ground troops can be deployed to Libya. (b real | Mar 18 | 20)

Libyan oil concessions

The workings of the imperial brain are plainly visible in the output of the corporate press, which act as ventriloquist dummies to power. Suddenly, the media have all undergone a crash course in the intractable nature of Libyan tribal politics – a subject until now totally unknown to the western press. After a quick education from the State Department and designated think tankers, corporate media dutifully prepare the public for the possible drawing of an American “line in the sand” somewhere before the gates of Benghazi [see the oil map below]…

“The West is clearly considering the ‘option’ of partitioning Libya.”

Western reporters, who are such quick studies when it comes to tribalisms and other perceived pathologies of exotic, non-western peoples, have not yet figured out who the rebels are, politically.

The western media, and the governments they serve, are caught in crossfire of contradictions. The U.S. wants desperately to position itself on the “right” side of some aspect of the unfolding Arab Reawakening. The West dearly wishes to appropriate to itself a section of the “Arab revolt,” so as to bomb an evil “dictator” on their behalf. The western media’s job is to do the public relations work, presenting these “pro-western” combatants in the most attractive light. However, it appears the media are having trouble packaging the Libyan rebels as sufficiently virtuous “freedom fighters” – one suspects because, on closer inspection, many turn out to be fundamentalists or tribalists.
the merest presence of Islamic fundamentalist fighters would have, in previous times, been reason for a U.S. attack and invasion – against those harboring such elements. (Glen Ford)

Libyan oil permits, oil fields, and pipelines. (click to enlarge enough to read) http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23605

Partition and dismemberment of countries with independent governments has been a strategy that the U.S., British and French governments employed in the Kurdish region of Iraq after the 1991 war, in Yugoslavia in the mid-1990’s, and recently in Sudan, which until January was Africa’s largest country. Of course, the biggest prize for imperialist expansion through the act of dismemberment was the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. For decades during the so-called Cold War the U.S. government, and especially the Central Intelligence Agency, crusaded on behalf of the “captive nations” of the Soviet Union. Its break-up was immediately followed by the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the incorporation of the western and southern republics of the former Soviet Union into the U.S. sphere of influence.

The breakup or de facto partition of Libya would be a great historical tragedy for the people, but would become a boon for all of the western oil giants.

At the very moment that the UN Security Council condemned the Gaddafi government for the use of violence against the armed rebels in Libya, a U.S.-backed violent suppression of peaceful protestors was underway in Bahrain and Yemen. Today, in response to the killing of more than 40 unarmed protesters in Yemen, the White House statement urged “peaceful, orderly” dialogue, and “an open and transparent process.” The difference is that the Bahraini and Saudi monarchies, and the Yemeni government, exist as client dictatorships of the United States. (Brian Becker)

You can see in the last map just above, of oil permits, fields, and pipelines, that the majority of the permits and the pipelines are on the eastern side of Libya, south of Benghazi, the stronghold of the rebels. These rebels are the US chosen good guys. Keep in mind these “good guys” are prominent among those harassing and killing African migrants in Libya.

The Africa Command in Libya is engaging in imperial acquisition by calling it humanitarian. “They”, Africans, in this case Libyans, are helpless and dangerous, so “we” need to use guns to help them. Just as with other African countries, Libya is treated as a place without history or context, its politics and history characterized only as inexplicable tribal rivalries. This is only the beginning of the more condescension and more war promised by AFRICOM’s General Ham.

Anyone who claims that they know, for sure, that either Allassane Dramane Ouattara or Laurent Gbagbo won the election is fiddling with the truth. Dr. Nfor N. Susungi

Considering the facts, it is difficult for Angola to accept that there is an elected president in La Côte d’Ivoire. We believe however, that there is a constitutional president. Jose Eduardo dos Santos, President Of Angola

Estimated undiscovered and recoverable oil and natural gas off the coast of Ivory Coast, extending through Ghana, Togo, Benin, and the western edge of Nigeria.: 4,071 MMBO, million barrels of oil, 34,451 BCFG, billion cubic feet of gas, and 1,145 MMBNGL, million barrels of natural gas liquids, for the Coastal Plain and Offshore AU in the Gulf of Guinea Province, outlined in red. This does not include current existing discoveries, or fields already in production. Note that it extends along the entire coast of Ivory Coast.

“In any case, people should stop to consider the circumstances under which the election results were declared. The election result was not declared by the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire. It was declared by one member of the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire, in Hôtel du Golf, which is the Headquarters of the Opposition. He was accompanied to do that declaration by the Ambassador of France and the Ambassador of the United States of America.

Indeed, the declaration was not done before the Ivorian media. The declaration was done, exclusively before the French media. No Ivorian journalist was present when the declaration was made. And it was made in the Headquarters of the Opposition.”
Kwesi Pratt

OUTSIDE MILITARY INTERVENTION IN IVORY COAST

ECOWAS threatened military intervention in Ivory Coast if Gbagbo does not cede the presidency to Ouattara. In January the Commander of the U.S. Army Africa, General Hogg (misspelled Hagg in the article) toured West African countries, including Ghana, looking for commitments of proxy soldiers for military intervention in Côte d’Ivoire.

“Responding to a question from the Commander of the United States Army in charge of Africa, Major-General David Hagg, Lt Gen Blay said the GAF were overstretched because of their international engagements in peacekeeping operations in various trouble spots in the world and that the top brass had made that known to the Commander-in-Chief of the GAF, President John Evans Atta Mills.

He said the GAF also had their commitments to protect the territorial integrity of the country.

Major-General Hagg was in the country to officially find out whether or not Ghana would commit troops to Cote d’Ivoire, should the need arise.”

Gen. David Hogg, the United States Commander in charge of Africa (left), admiring a gift presented to him by Lt. Gen. Augustine Blay, Ghana's Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), at the Burma Camp in Accra, Jan. 12, 2011.

At his New Year’s Press Conference, H.E. President John Evans Atta-Mills presented Ghana’s foreign policy stance on Cote d’Ivoire as one which respects the territorial sovereignty of its neighbor, seeks to use peaceful diplomatic means to resolve the ongoing electoral dispute and puts a priority on the interests of Ghanaians. President Atta-Mills also said in his “personal opinion” he did not believe that military force will be beneficial in resolving the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire and therefore was opposed to a military invasion of Cote d’Ivoire.

President Mills opined that he believed we should be guided by the Fanti saying in relation troubles “Dzi wo fie asem, mind your own house/business. He received a lot of criticism for this, including from the BBC, whose David Amanor missed the point. A better explantion of the use of the proverb is provided by Nii Aryertey Aryeh. Mills consulted with the head of GAF, the Ghana Armed Forces, who said Ghana is already overextended with peacekeeping and does not have enough soldiers or resources to undertake military action in Côte d’Ivoire. It is also the case that at least a million Ghanaians live in Côte d’Ivoire. Their lives would be in significantly more danger if Ghana were to engage in military adventurism there. Mills advocates quiet diplomacy to resolve the situation in Ivory Coast.

The current planning for military intervention is hardly credible. Kwesi Pratt describes what has been committed so far. He gave an interview on Radio Gold (transcript) which is the most detailed description of the entire situation I have seen. Here is the excerpt describing the ECOWAS military commitment:

“You know, Suhuyini, I’d like to start with some definitions first. And then you will see how ridiculous the proposition to go to war is. Listen to me very carefully. I just checked, I am not a military man, so yesterday, I spent some time to go on the internet. And these are the definitions I got from the internet:

A platoon, a platoon, and fortunately Dr. Tony Aidoo is in the studio, having been Deputy Minister of Defence before, he may understand these things better than me.

Dr. Tony Aidoo: It is a small unit.
Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.: A platoon is twenty six to fifty five men. You understand? I will relate it to what I am going to say very soon. A platoon is twenty six to fifty five men. A company is eighty to two hundred and twenty five men. A battalion is three hundred to thousand three hundred men. And a regiment or brigade, is between three thousand and five thousand men and so on.

Now we are saying that the Ghana government is not committed to war. Other nations are committed to war. What is their concrete commitments? Look, ECOWAS chiefs of staff met in Abuja on the 28th of December last year, to consider the military option. So they said, everybody, bring what you have and let’s go to war. Look at what they brought, Suhuyini, it is very interesting!

Liberia…, Liberia, Liberia committed one infantry platoon. To go to war in La Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia contributed twenty six men!

Dr. Tony Aidoo: Hm hm hm! [chuckling]
Kwesi Pratt Jnr.: Sierra Leone committed one infantry company. That is all they committed. One infantry company! Senegal, Senegal which is leading the charge, Senegal and Burkina Faso which are leading the charge listen to what they contributed. Senegal is contributing one commando company, one motorised infantry company, and one battalion headquarters, take note, headquarters, not a battalion, one battalion headquarters with level two hospital. Benin decided to contribute only one mechanised company! One mechanised company!

It is getting more and more interesting. Now you can see the point I am making. Togo, Togo decided to commit one motorised company, and a possible commando company. A “possible”, it is not definite, commando company. Mali decided to contribute one transport company, one engineer company, and one motorised company.

Burkina Faso, Blaise Campoore’s Burkina Faso. Blaise Campoore who is touring the world to make the case for military intervention. He has been to Britain, he’s been to France, he is all over the place! Look at his contribution and you would laugh! Blaise Campoore’s contribution, Burkina Faso’s contribution is one mechanised infantry company, one commando company, and one engineer company. These are the contributions they are making.

This is a reflection of the commitment of West African leaders to war in La Côte d’Ivoire!

Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.: Nigeria’s contribution is this. One motorised or mechanised battalion. One! One F-17 Fighter Squadron,

Dr. Tony Aidoo: A squadron is five people.
Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.; Yeah. One M-135 squadron, one single company and battalion headquarters. Headquarters-ooh? Sea assets, and additional one or two infantry companies, as may be required. And indeed, Nigeria is making the highest contribution.

Dr. Tony Aidoo: They don’t even reach two thousand!

Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.: Master, this force is going to La Côte d’Ivoire to wage war against a regular professional army of eleven thousand men! This is the force that is going to La Côte d’Ivoire to wage war against a regular professional army of eleven thousand men!
… this is their death warrant being signed!

Dr. Tony Aidoo: Suicide mission.
Kwesi Pratt, Jnr..: This is a suicide mission! Suicide mission! My brother, listen to me very carefully. If you have been to Abidjan before, Abidjan is a densely populated city, with high rise buildings and so on To be able to take Abidjan, you need have total air domination. You need to have troops which would take complete control of the ground and so on. In fact, the estimates to be able to do that, the interventionist force needs not less than twenty thousand men, to be able to do this effectively and to do it quickly.

And yet, our leaders in Africa think that with less than two thousand men, and outdated equipment and so on, they will be able to do it! God bless them! They are only sentencing their soldiers to death, painful death on the streets of La Côte d’Ivoire.

I am happy that our Commander-In-Chief, and President, has taken the wise decision not push Ghanaian soldiers into this reckless adventure! The lives of Ghanaian soldiers are important to us!”

The AU is currently asking a group of African leaders to persuade Gbagbo to step down. Their mandate has been extended through February. So far it looks like a stalemate. Ouattara is recognized the winner by the international community, the US and France feature prominently among those declaring Ouattara the winner, and appear to have engineered the announcement that Ouattara won. So it behooves us to examine exactly what happened. The information below comes from Kwesi Pratt (1) Dr. Nfor N. Susungi (2) and The Socialist Forum of Ghana (3). You can listen to Kwesi Pratt’s interview on Radio Gold.

THE FACTS ON THE GROUND

“Now if you are going to respect the facts, what are the facts?

The African Union, which has joined ECOWAS and the UN in insisting on the military option, and insisting that Ouattara won the elections in La Côte d’Ivoire, sent an observer team to La Côte d’Ivoire to observe both the first round and the second round of the elections. The African Union Team was led by Koku Koffigoh, former Prime Minister of Togo.

At the end of the elections, Koku Kofigoh, made a public statement in Abidjan to the effect that the results of the elections were not credible. They were not credible! And that they were vitiated by extreme violence, stuffing of ballot boxes and so on. Indeed it is interesting that two of the AU observers were kidnapped by the New Forces, and it took the intervention of the United Nations to secure their release.

AU sends an Observer Mission, the Observer Mission says the elections are not credible, and yet the AU declares a winner! And insists that we should go to war in order to make the “winner” the President, when its own Observer Mission, headed by a former Prime Minister, says that the elections were not credible!” (1)

Dr. Nfor N. Susungi provides more detail:

Was the Presidential Election in Cote d’Ivoire Free and Fair?

For once, this is the easiest question to answer because the simple answer is NO. It was not possible to conduct free and fair elections in a country which was still cut in half with the rebel Forces Nouvelles (under the direct Command and control of Prime Minister Soro Guillaume) still controlling the northern half, having resisted all attempts to get them to disarm as required by the so-called Accords Politique de Ouagadougou. In spite of the fact that not even ONUCI with nearly 9,000 troops had succeeded in getting the rebels to disarm before the election, pressure was brought by the US and France, through the United Nations, for the elections to proceed.

The exactions that took place during the elections by armed groups in the rebel controlled north were detailed in consistent and concordant reports presented by various observer groups, including that of the African Union led by former Togolese Prime Minister Joseph Koffi KOFFIGOH, who all concluded that the scale of electoral abuses in the northern zone were on such a scale as to discredit the sincerity of the vote in many areas in the North.

Curiously, Curiously, Curiously, we started hearing voices to the effect that the credibility of local (African) observers was questionable. That is because the reports of European and American observers had already given passing marks to the entire election. The racist undertone to the denigrating commentary directed at African observers was absolutely unmistakable. That is when we all began to suspect that there was a grand agenda in this election which was not known to the public.

So who won the last election in Cote d’Ivoire?

Anyone who claims that they know, for sure, that either Allassane Dramane Ouattara or Laurent Gbagbo won the election is fiddling with the truth. …

The only thing that we know with absolute certainty is that Mr. Youssouf Bakayoko, the President of the CEI, having failed to announce the preliminary results within the stipulated 72-hour period, transmitted the election materials to the Constitutional Council after midnight on Wednesday 1/12/2010. Then on Thursday 2/12/2010 he went to Alassane’s campaign HQ at Golf Hotel to attend a press conference and ended up declaring Allassane the winner in a 3 minute speech. None were more stunned at this development than his fellow members of the CEI who were completely taken unawares.

The second thing that we know for sure is that Youssouf Bakayoko announcement at Golf Hotel was carried live on France 24 and other foreign media and that no Ivorian news network was present. The third thing which we know for sure is that the Constitutional Council declared Youssouf Bakayoko’s results invalid for being made after 72-hour deadline and for making it single-handedly in the campaign HQ of one candidate. The Constitutional Council went on to declare on Friday 3/12/2010 Gbagbo the final winner of the election after ruling on the validity petitions which were filed by Gbagbo to the Constitutional Council.

The last thing that we know with absolute certainty is that everyone seems to have taken sides since then and depending on whether you support Laurent Gbagbo or Allassane Dramane Ouattara, each side has been tuning only into the news networks which amplify the information which is favourable to their point of view.

The Constitution vs. the United Nations

Paul Yao Ndre is a Constitutional Lawyer of impeccable credentials and the ruling of the Constitutional Council under his Presidency cannot be dismissed just because he is reportedly a friend of Laurent Gbagbo. Whatever the case, since his ruling, he has come forward to defend the legal grounds on which he made his rulings whereas, nothing has been heard of Mr. Youssouf Bakayoko since he announced the results at Golf Hotel. The question is where is he and why has he gone into hiding? Who and what is he afraid of?

In all fairness to the camp of Allassane Dramane Ouattara, they may have been inclined to accept fatalistically the decision of the Constitutional Council … But unfortunately they were encouraged to engage in dissidence by the belief that there is another jurisdiction above the Constitutional Council when Mr. Choi, the UN Representative publicly disowned the results of the Constitutional Court by “certifying” that the winner of the election was Mr. Allassane Dramane Ouattara.

I listened, live, to the press briefing of Mr. Choi on ONUCI FM at which Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, a well-known Ghanaian journalist asked him, “Are you saying that there are two Presidents in Cote d’Ivoire now?” Mr. Choi replied in the affirmative. From that moment, I knew that Cote d’Ivoire was heading for an abyss and Mr. Choi was a very dangerous international civil servant who had triggered something very sinister which was now unstoppable.” (2)

U.N. mission chief to Ivory Coast Y.J. Choi (L) attends a meeting with Ivory Coast's Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan December 9, 2010. The U.N. Security Council has backed Ouattara as the winner of Ivory Coast's disputed Nov. 28 presidential election. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

________

The Socialist Forum of Ghana fills in more detail with some thought to the long range consequences:

“It is clear that both leaders enjoy significant support and that their supporters genuinely believe that others seek to cheat them out of deserved victory. The imposition of either leader on Ivoirians can only escalate the conflict. La Cote d’Ivoire deserves better.

Pan-African activists must challenge recent declarations made in the names of ECOWAS and the AU as well as the processes through which our regional bodies make critical decisions. The “AU” position was announced by a secretariat official without Council approval and purely on the basis of the supposed ECOWAS position. The Abuja ECOWAS summit itself was attended by only 5 out of 15 eligible heads of State and was apparently conducted on the basis of their “seniority” – i.e. longevity in office. Three of the heads of state present (Presidents Jonathan of Nigeria, Wade of Senegal and Compaore of Burkina Faso) endorsed Ouattara. Presidents Sirleaf-Johnson of Liberia and Mills of Ghana urged caution and engagement. The only other ECOWAS leader that has taken a public position on the matter (President Jammeh of Gambia) has come out in support of President Gbagbo. Three out of sixteen is hardly a democratic majority. It is certainly inadequate for making life and death decisions affecting millions. That the majority of ECOWAS leaders have not spoken to the Ivoirian elections whether of reluctance to attract scrutiny to their own electoral credentials or fear of antagonising the “international community” or sheer short sighted indifference is simply not acceptable. We must demand more of our leaders.

More fundamentally we must challenge the narrative that suggests that La Cote d’Ivoire’s problem is an electoral one. A credible election in La Cote d’Ivoire would help to resolve the larger political crisis. However, the election dispute is only the most immediate of the deep divisions that afflict Ivoirians like. The fundamental division that drives African politics is the division between the incredibly wealthy foreign and local elites that control continental resources and the dispossessed and oppressed African poor that have to sell their labour and surrender their dignity to these elite machines just to survive. This fundamental division in African society has been compounded across the continent by many decades of elite divide-and-rule tactics that promoted secondary identity differences between ordinary working Ivoirians precisely to prevent them from uniting and challenging the elites responsible for their misery.” (3)

[Note: Horace Campbell provides more detail and background on Ivory Coast's recent history, particularly the divisions mentioned above that have been ruthlessly exploited by the powerful to retain power, quoted here in January.]

“In Cote La d’Ivoire several factors allowed those identity divisions to take on a life of their own in the 21st century. These included the growing challenge to French neo-colonial hegemony in West Africa from the US and from certain regional interests. These also included the collapse of local elite coherence following the death of President Houphouet-Boigny. As neo-colonial power fragmented in the mid-2000s identity politics degenerated to militarisation and partition and a massive increase in the woes of the Ivoirian people. Obviously, the imposition by the “international community” of Alassane Ouattara on such a deeply divided society will not solve the La Cote d’Ivoire crisis. What it will do is however is advance the overall cause of neo-colonialism and set the scene for further conflict between France and the US and allied regional powers for control over La Cote d’Ivoire and regional resources – in particular oil and gas.” (3)

In the western media you will not see much about oil being an issue in Ivory Coast. The news stories all talk about cocoa. But if you look at the map above you can see the significance. And no doubt the prospect of oil money makes the Ivorian presidential contenders more contentious. Oil is most certainly the reason AFRICOM’s General Hogg was seeking troop commitments in January for military intervention.

ON COUNTING THE VOTES

Kwesi Pratt tells us more about the vote counts:

“… take the Vallée du Bandama region in La Côte d’Ivoire, the Electoral Commission comes up with votes, you understand, votes, for Ouattara, you add those votes, they come to one hundred and forty nine thousand votes, and yet the declaration of results gives Ouatarra two hundred and forty four thousand votes! Who would accept this? You go to some other constituencies, turn-out, eh? Is two hundred and fifty per cent of registered voters! Two hundred and fifty per cent of registered voters! Who would accept those results?

Indeed, I asked my colleague and friend, Comrade Kwesi Adu, to do an analysis of the election results, because he does these things. He was an election observer in Guinea and so on, so he is so good at it. And I asked him to do an analysis. In one constituency, Gbagbo won one hundred and eighty per cent of all the registered voters. In the same constituency Ouattara won one hundred and something per cent of registered voters. How do you accept these results? How can you say that these results represent the will of the Ivorian people? By what magic?

So, either people are deliberately lying, or they don’t know the facts, or they are being insincere in the discussion of the Ivorian crisis.” (1)

THE IVORIAN CONSTITUTION

Pratt continues to describe the constitutional issues:

“What Does The Law Of La Côte d’Ivoire Say?
The law of La Côte d’Ivoire says it very clearly that the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire declares provisional results. That those provisional results ought to be validated by the Constitutional Council. That is what the law says. So, the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire, does not declare who a winner is. It only declares provisional results. It is only the Constitutional Council of La Côte d’Ivoire, which can declare a winner in an election.

Then you have some apologists of Ouattara, they come up and they say, look, the legal position is that that provision of La Côte d’Ivoire Constitution was suspended because an agreement was reached under UN auspices! My brother, this is a joke! Is anybody telling me that the UN, ECOWAS, AU, or any International organisation, can amend the constitution of a country, without reference to the people of that country? Does it make sense?

Even if you accept that the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire is an independent Commission, and you accept that the final constitutional authority for declaring results is the Constitutional Council, what you do have in La Côte d’Ivoire is a situation where the electoral Commission has declared one result, and the Constitutional Council has declared another result. What you do have is a political crisis! It is an issue of the legitimacy of two state institutions.
Do You Resolve That By Going To War?”
(1)

Pratt compares the situation to the recent elections in Belarus and in Egypt, in which nobody suggested interfering or sending in troops, despite questions of legitimacy.

“So they [the international community] are acting clearly from a self-interest point of view! And we say, that our self-interest does not matter! So when the President says “Dzi wo fie asem”, then there is a problem! But all of them, every one of them, France, the United States, Britain, all of them they are “dzing their fie asem”! All of them!

None of them is doing what they are doing because they love West Africans more than themselves! They are doing it because of their interests in the strategic resources of La Côte d’Ivoire!

And that is why it is important for us to wake up to that reality and to begin to raise the fundamental questions of law and constitutionality.” (1)

Dr. Nfor N. Susungi tells us more about the constitutional issues:

“The real adversary standing between Allassane Dramane Ouattara and the Presidency of Cote d’Ivoire is not Laurent Gbagbo; it is Professor Paul Yao Ndre, the President of the Constitutional Council. Contrary to what many people seem to think, Paul Yao Ndre is a very able and independent-minded legal thinker who is sure about the legal grounds on which he made his ruling. He has full constitutional powers to make any ruling on the regularity of any aspects of the electoral process including, above all, on the validity of the announcement which was made by Youssouf Bakayoko at Golf Hotel.

On this particular point, his ruling was that the announcement was null and void because it was made after 72-hour foreclosure deadline and in the partisan context of the campaign HQ of one candidate. This is the most important ruling made by Professor Paul Yao Ndre and it is valid and binding. Any one challenging this ruling is attacking an institution, not a person.

The venom which is being poured prematurely on Professor Paul Yao Ndre at the moment is a serious mistake with which the United States should not be associated because even if an ECOWAS intervention force dislodges Laurent Gbagbo, the Armed Forces of Cote d’Ivoire will never swear their allegiance to defend Allassane as President unless he is sworn-in by Professor Paul Yao Ndre. As things stand at the moment, even if the Presidency became vacant, Allassane cannot claim it automatically because Professor Paul Yao Ndre will have no grounds for swearing-in Allassane to occupy the post of President.

The Role of Regional Organizations
Equally shocking has been the role of regional organizations which took their decisions without bothering to hear both sides of the story. Allassane Dramane Ouattara has been proclaimed winner by the “International Community” while Laurent Gbagbo has been declared winner by the Constitutional Council of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire. None can ignore the other because each one of them can claim to be standing on solid ground.
Clearly, the Ivorian crisis is breaking new ground in defining a new constitutional jurisdiction transcending the concept of sovereign states as defined and understood under the UN and AU charter. That new and emerging constitutional jurisdiction is known vaguely as “the International Community”. The powers that his new jurisdiction has arrogated to itself include the power to certify elections in a sovereign state and to declare war on a sovereign state. It is not yet clear whether the Ivorian crisis is a one-off situation or whether it is part of an emerging trend.

If it is part of a trend, then it is necessary for the world to get together very quickly and adopt some convention defining who “the International Community” is and what are its powers of intervention in the affairs of sovereign states. Failing that, we should expect that the world, and more particularly Africa, will enter a period of political instability on a scale never known before.

It is regrettable that it is only after the last ECOWAS summit unilaterally declared war on Laurent Gbagbo that they finally decided to send a delegation to deliver the ultimatum to Laurent Gbagbo. This is a watershed event in African history. The damage is already done. If the ECOWAS war does breakout, Africa will face its greatest challenge since the advent of independence in the Gold Coast in 1957. ECOWAS and UEMOA are now in deep trouble. The break-up of ECOWAS is on the cards if war breaks out and the withdrawal of Cote d’Ivoire from the CFA zone is also a possibility.” (2)

THE WHOLE PICTURE

Kwesi Pratt quotes His Excellency, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, The President Of Angola, who sums up the issues clearly and unequivocally.

“The facts specifically tell us the following;

One: The president of the Electoral Commission released the results of the second round of the presidential election, when it was out of his competence to do so, since his time, for purposes defined by law, was expired and since the issue had been transferred to the Constitutional Council for due consideration and treatment.

Two: The United Nations representative in Côte d’Ivoire in a hastened move, certified and announced those results when the relevant UN resolution states that the certification should focus on election results validated by the Constitutional Council, which had not yet made a pronouncement.

Three: The declaration by the United Nations representative misled the whole international community.”

And Listen very carefully,. The President of Angola says:

“The declaration by the United Nations representative misled the whole international community, since the Constitutional Council had not validated the provisional results released by the president of the Electoral Commission as a result of having accepted objections and complaints of serious irregularities and fraud which undermined these results.

Four: The Constitutional Council is in fact the only organ with the legal competence to validate and publish the final results of the elections.

Five: Under the law, The Constitutional Council should recommend the holding of new elections within 45 days, but it did not proceed in this manner and instead reported results that attributed the victory to another candidate.

Considering the above facts, it is difficult for Angola to accept that there is an elected president in La Côte d’Ivoire.

We believe however, that there is a constitutional president…,”

And this is very important, listen to the Angolan position:

“We believe however, that there is a constitutional president, the current president of the republic, who happens to be Laurent Gbagbo, who must remain in power until the new election as established by the electoral law of that country. The greatest difficulty now is that the 45 days are not enough to create a favourable climate for elections, and the current crisis complicates the matter further.

We are therefore of the opinion that any military intervention in the particular case of Côte d’Ivoire would have an adverse effect, with serious consequences beyond its borders.

The Angolan Executive supports and encourages dialogue and negotiations to overcome the crisis in this brother country, and believes that by demonstrating political will, wisdom, and realism, it is possible to find a solution that focuses, first and foremost, on the legitimate interests of all the people of Côte d’Ivoire.” (1)

Why does the international community want military intervention? The forces proposed are obviously hopelessly inadequate for the job. Nothing could be accomplished by them except to provoke instability and prolonged civil war. Is instability and civil war the objective? Would that help neo-colonial predators extract natural resources on their own terms? (death and suffering for you, money for us) Military intervention will burn all the parties involved, except perhaps certain multinational corporations engaged in extractive industries.

Côte d’Ivoire is in a state of profound political and constitutional crisis over the legitimacy of state institutions The imposition of either leader on Ivorians can only escalate the conflict. War will escalate the problems and delay any solutions. The country needs dialog and peaceful negotiations and diplomatic assistance. Angola’s President is correct in stating that Côte d’Ivoire has a constitutional president, but not an elected one. Ultimately Côte d’Ivoire needs to hold a new election. Although that may not help until it comes to better terms with who gets to vote, who runs the polls, and who counts the votes. The international community needs to back off from stepping in and overriding the constitution of a sovereign nation.

In February 2010 the USGS published: Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of Four West Africa Geologic Provinces (USGS Fact Sheet 2010-3006)

Four geologic provinces located along the northwest and west-central coast of Africa recently were assessed for undiscovered oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids resources as part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) World Oil and Gas Assessment. Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the USGS estimated mean volumes of 71.7 billion barrels of oil, 187.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 10.9 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

Figure 1: Locations of four assessed geologic provinces located along the northwest and west-central coast of Africa.

Table 1. West Africa Provinces assessment results for undiscovered, technically recoverable oil, gas, and natural gas liquids.
Largest expected mean field size in million barrels of oil and billion cubic feet of gas; MMBO, million barrels of oil. BCFG, billion cubic feet of gas. MMBNGL, million barrels of natural gas liquids. Results shown are fully risked estimates. For gas accumulations, all liquids are included as natural gas liquids (NGL). Undiscovered gas resources are the sum of nonassociated and associated gas. F95 represents a 95 percent chance of at least the amount tabulated; other fractiles are defined similarly. AU, assessment unit; AU probability is the chance of at least one accumulation of minimum size within the AU. NGL, natural gas liquids. TPS, total petroleum system. Gray shading indicates not applicable.

West Africa Provinces assessment results for undiscovered, technically recoverable, gas, and natural gas liquids

The entire document is 2 pages, linked from here: Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of Four West Africa Geologic Provinces. Due mostly to the odd way they have handled fairly simple graphics, the 2 page document is 7.5MB. I’ve made the map and the chart into web graphics here. You can click on them here to enlarge.

When you read about US foreign policy in West African countries, or about US Africa Command activities in West Africa, keep the map above in mind.

________

NOTE: The figures above refer only to undiscovered oil. They do not include fields that have already been discovered and whose size is known, and do not include fields already in production.

The areas marked on the map do include fields that have already been discovered, and fields already in production, since many discoveries and production are in those same geologic provinces where there are estimates of undiscovered oil.

Dec. 15, 2010 marked a great day in the lives of many Ghanaians because Ghana joined the list of countries producing oil on a commercial basis. The question on most people’s minds is: How does this benefit us (Ghanaians)?

Ghana's President John Atta Mills turns on the valve to allow the first barrel of crude to flow from the Jubilee offshore oil field on Dec. 15. Ghanaians welcomed their country's first oil on Wednesday, optimistic they can enjoy the economic benefits without the troubles that oil wealth has brought other African countries. CTM Communications/Tullow Oil/Reuters

His Excellency John Atta Mills, President of Ghana, was in Sekondi-Takoradi, where he was flown offshore to the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah to open the valves to make way for the flow of first oil. Jubilee Partners, which include Tullow Oil plc (34.7 percent), Anadarko Petroleum Corp (23.49 percent), Kosmos Energy (23.49 percent), Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) (13.75 percent), Sabre Oil and Gas (2.81 percent) and E.O. Group (1.75 percent) participated in a formal celebration to commemorate the first oil, hosted by the president at the Takoradi Air force base.

The first phase of production at the Jubilee oilfield has begun, ramping up to 55,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD) this month and 120,000 BOPD during the first half of 2011 as additional wells are completed. This marks the beginning of Ghana’s first significant commercial oil production and will allow the country to join the ranks of sizable West African oil exporters.

Estimates on the quantum of Ghana’s oil wealth vary hugely. The common starting point is that Jubilee will produce about 120,000 barrels per day and some $1.2 billion in government revenue a year for 20 years.

Map of Ghana offshore oil fields including Jubilee, Tweneboa, and Dzata

The adjacent Tweneboa field is reckoned to be as big as Jubilee’s, but industry experts forecast the biggest finds will be onshore in the Keta basin. With companies like Exxon Mobil, BP, ENI and Sinopec vying to buy equity in the Jubilee field, the assumption is that Ghana has several billion barrels of reserves.

Location of the Keta basin study area, wells and proximity to other fields in the Gulf of Guinea Province.

David Throup of Online Africa Policy Forums Blog points out that:

Ghana urgently needs to improve its infrastructure: it needs new sewers and water pipes and ring-roads in Accra, a revamped electricity grid, improved generating facilities at Akosombo, improved rail-links from Accra to Kumasi and Tamale and on to Burkina Faso, and a renewed and extended network of secondary and tertiary feeder roads through the rural hinterland. Others will argue for improving educational and health facilities. Such development spending would generate employment in construction and ancillary services, and hopefully promote sustained economic activity and growth. In a society where 60-70 percent of the population depends on smallholder agriculture for their livelihoods and 90 percent of the population in urban areas depends on the informal sector, such job-generating spending could be beneficial. But the money must be spent wisely and over a number of years if it is not to exacerbate inflation and exceed Ghana’s capacity to absorb the spending.

Ghana enters new era with oil field launch

TAKORADI, Ghana, December 15 – Ghana joined the ranks of Africa’s oil exporters on Wednesday, pledging to work to ensure lucrative new revenues further bolster one of the continent’s rising star economies.

John Atta Mills, the president of Ghana, wearing safety gear and blue overalls, opened the valves in a televised ceremony at the 330-metre-long floating platform some 40 miles (60 km) off the west African country’s Atlantic coast.

Initial production of around 120,000 barrels per day will rank Ghana as sub-Saharan Africa’s seventh largest producer, with output set to double within three years.

The start of commercial production came just three years after discovery of oil at the field, named Jubilee to mark the timing of the find 50 years after independence in 1957.

“After a long wait, the day has come,” Mr Mills said.

“But … it means that we are assuming a very serious responsibility. And especially for those who are in leadership positions, we must ensure that it becomes a blessing not a curse,” he warned.

Aside from state-owned Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), top players in Jubilee include UK-listed operator Tullow Oil, US producer Anadarko Petroleum and privately held US energy firm Kosmos.

The event underlines the importance of the Gulf of Guinea as a growing source of energy to consumers such as the US, where some see it supplying a quarter of US oil by 2015.

The region already counts Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo Republic as exporters and others such as Liberia and Sierra Leone are hopeful of joining the club.

Ghana has taken advice in how to manage its oil sector from countries including Norway, and is anxious to avoid the strife and corruption which nearby Nigeria’s oil has brought.

“It will be a blessing because we are all jobless and poor,” said Brian Salmon, a 17-year-old small-holder in the western region coastal town of Takoradi.

“Normally when oil comes everybody is fighting to get their daily bread, but we Ghanaians have an understanding and will avoid conflict,” he added.

Ghana is the world’s second largest cocoa producer after neighbouring Ivory Coast and Africa’s number two gold miner. It has a $750m eurobond currently yielding about 6.4 per cent.

Ghana expects Jubilee’s oil and gas to help double its growth rate to more than 12 per cent next year, funding projects to boost infrastructure and laying the foundation for new industrial sectors. New data on Wednesday showed inflation running at 18-year lows.

Analysts say that while two decades of multi-party politics have led to a level of governance others in the volatile region can only dream of, Accra has dragged its heels on drafting the legal framework needed to manage the oil revenues.

Total revenue from oil into the 2011 budget is put at only 1.9 per cent of GDP. Although this is due to rise over the years, the initial impact on the economy is seen as modest.

Many are concerned a complex petroleum revenue management bill has yet to be voted by parliament and note the current draft allows 70 per cent of revenues to be used as collateral against loans, a possible incitement to excess borrowing.

“As a country we have a fairly terrible track record of hedging our commodities,” said Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi of Ghana’s Centre for Democratic Development.

Ghana failed to tuck away proceeds from its assets in time to cushion it from a price slump in 2000, forcing it to seek $3.7bn debt relief two years later. Its budget deficit is set to finish 2010 just under 10 per cent of national output.

In a saga that unnerved some potential investors, Kosmos in August called off what sources close to the deal said was a $4bn pact to sell its stake to ExxonMobil after resistance from GNPC, which wants to raise its own holding.

Ghana Pumps First Official Oil

History was recorded yesterday in the Western Region when President Atta-Mills turned the valve on the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah to signify the beginning of the production of crude oil in commercial quantities in the Jubilee oil field.

It was a memorable occasion for all Ghanaians many who stayed glued to their TVs at home and work places to watch the programme live. The function itself took place at the Takoradi Air Force base and was graced by two former Presidents, Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor as well as Ministers of State, members of the diplomatic corps, Members of Parliament, Chiefs and Ghanaians from all walks of life.

Also present were the jubilee partners; Tullow Oil plc, Anadarko, EO Group, Cosmos, Sabre and GNPC who are the shareholders of the Jubilee field.

At about 10 am, President Mills arrived on the FPSO in a helicopter and went through the safety briefing before being led by a Tullow official to the pipeline where he turned open the valve to open the pipes for the crude oil to gush through.

Ghana’s oil is the light sweet crude kind that is much sought after in the international market. The Jubilee Field will produce an initial 55,000 barrels of oil per day, but with the development of more wells, production is expected to hit 120,000 barrels per day.

The first export of oil will be in the first week of January 2011 to the United States of America and other European countries with the rest being used for domestic purposes. President John Evans Attah Mills, after turning open the valve, went ahead to interact with some Ghanaian engineers and doctors working in the vessel. Dr. Claudia Donkor and trainee engineers Emmanuel Kojo Dei and Francis Antwi were part of those the President interacted with. They expressed their joy at being part of the historic occasion.

Addressing a large gathering at the Takoradi Air Force base later on, President Mills paid glowing tributes to Former Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor for their immense contribution towards the production of crude oil in commercial quantities in Ghana.

He said former president Rawlings “clearly laid a massive foundation for what we are witnessing today. President John Agyekum Kufour continued from where President Rawlings left off. He also devoted attention to the oil.”

President Mills also paid special homage to Former GNPC boss, Tsatsu Tsikata under whose watch great strides were made towards the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities in Ghana.

The President also applauded the efforts of the Jubilee partners in concluding Ghana’s odyssey to crude oil production in commercial quantities but reminded them on the need to respect all the agreements signed especially the fact that local content in the production process must be a priority.

Touching on the concerns raised by Chiefs in the Western Region about the need to use 10% of the oil revenue to develop the region, the President assured them that the region would be given priority.

“The Western Region where the oil and gas is located will be given the pride of place as far as development is concerned. Indeed there will be a massive development within the Western Region in the next few months,” he said.

With production beginning, Ghanaians are hoping that the under development that has been the lot of the country for years would soon be a thing of the past.

I spoke with Ghana. Everyone was watching on tv and feeling some pride. We are all watching with hope and trepidation in our hearts. In all too many cases we are watching with greed in our hearts as well. May we protect ourselves from the ill effects of our own greed and the immense greed from outside Ghana’s borders. And may all Ghanaians share and enjoy the benefits and positive opportunities the oil offers.

We have a laboratory that shows us what happens to a vital and sensitive coastal wetland subjected to massive and repeated oil spills. So far very little has been done to study it. The Niger Delta, one of the 10 most important wetland and coastal marine ecosystems in the world, has experienced an average of one oil spill per day, collectively the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez spill per year, for five decades, 50 years. Half the life created in a warm coastal wetland is created in the top two millimeters of slime on the surface of the marsh mud, the food base of the entire coastal wetland, as illustrated below. If this layer is covered by oil and dies, all the animals up the food chain risk starvation. In the 8 minute video Curse of the Black Gold. you can hear a man telling us that in his Niger Delta fishing community where they have fished for generations, there is now no one who can make a living as a fisherman.

Half of the all the life created in the nature-rich Louisiana coast, one of the world's most productive estuaries, or in any warm coastal wetland, takes place in the thin layer of slime on top of the marshes. Microscopic creatures are a key part of the Gulf marsh ecosystem. (nola.com, click to enlarge enough to read)

Right now BP’s Deep Horizon well is spilling what may be the equivalent of one or more Exxon Valdez spills per week. The well may be compromised downhole (from dougr at the Oil Drum) and leaking in multiple locations. How, and even if it can be stopped are open questions to which no one appears to know the answer. In the Niger Delta we have the laboratory for how this massive a spill might effect people, plants, animals, land, and water. But it has been very little studied. The effects of this oil spilling on people has been almost completely ignored.

Meredeth Turshen wrote of the Niger Delta in 2004:

Specific effects of oil development on women’s health seem not to have been investigated. Although I found an article on the effects of exposure of crocodiles to sub-lethal concentrations of petroleum waste drilling fluid in the Niger Delta basin, I could find nothing on the health of women who live near oil wells and oil production stations, and nothing on reproductive outcomes in areas adjacent to petrochemical plants. Yet it is known that cadmium, chromium, mercury, and lead are contained in the refinery effluents that are constantly discharged into nearby bodies of water. At high concentrations these metals cause metabolic malfunctions in human beings. They enter the food chain through the drinking water and the local fish that people consume.

Right now we are just beginning to see similar exposure to US citizens.

Oil spills have destroyed lives and livelihoods throughout the Niger Delta. You can see and hear what has happened to people:
Click here to view the 8 minute video Curse of the Black Gold.
It is based on Ed Kashi’s book of the same name, Curse of the Black Gold.

Neither the oil companies nor the Nigerian government want anyone to know what is going on. Investigation and research is actively discouraged. Those engaged in research or reporting may find themselves threatened and at risk of arrest, beatings, injury and death. And now The Mercenaries Take Over, mostly hired by the oil companies to protect their interests and prevent interference and investigation.

The same thing is happening in the Gulf of Mexico. BP has hired mercenaries to keep the news media and the public away from the places the oil has come ashore and prevent investigation.
Louisiana response to Gulf of Mexico oil spill obstructed by BP and federal agencies, state officials say
or
Barriers to news coverage of Gulf of Mexico oil spill remain despite promises

Journalists covering the Gulf of Mexico oil spill have been yelled at, kicked off public beaches and islands and threatened with arrest in the nearly three weeks since the government promised improved media access.

The threats and dangers are not now as pervasive and severe as in the Niger Delta. But they are there, and this is just the beginning. You can see in the following picture the vast extent of the oil spill, covering 18, 473 square miles on June 19, and growing. Much of that oil will be coming ashore in the wetlands. Storms are likely to drive it to land and inland. Much oil remains suspended in the water along with a great deal of methane that has been escaping with the oil. The oil and methane will kill marine life and make their habitat uninhabitable.

Strong thunderstorms form large, dense masses of bright white cloud in this MODIS/Aqua satellite image of the northeast Gulf of Mexico taken the afternoon of June 19, 2010. But it's clearer than the MODIS/Terra image taken the day before, and reveals fresh oil upwelling around the location of the leaking Macondo well, source of the ongoing BP / Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Slicks and sheen span 18,473 square miles (47,847 km2) on this image. Thin patches of slick and sheen appear to be making landfall from Gulf Shores, Alabama to Perdido Key in Florida, and from Grayton Beach State Park to the Seacrest / Rosemary Beach area along the Florida coast. (from SkyTruth on Flickr: flickr.com/photos/skytruth/4722626008/ , click to enlarge)

In Nigeria Claytus Kanyie says:

The aquatic life of our people is dying off. There used be shrimp. There are no longer any shrimp.

And another Nigerian fisherman speaks:

If you want to go fishing, you have to paddle for about four hours through several rivers before you can get to where you can catch fish and the spill is lesser … some of the fishes we catch, when you open the stomach, it smells of crude oil.

Soon this will be true in the Gulf of Mexico, as will all the health effects and economic impact of wetlands saturated with oil, and of a sea depleted of oxygen and filled with oil and toxic chemicals.

“I’ve never seen this kind of attitude, where safety doesn’t seem to matter.”

“Very big fish and very prized fish are moving in to spawn — it’s a critical time of the year … Larvae from the fish may end up eating droplets of oil.”

This post continues Deep Water Drilling – What Can Go Wrong?

Oil continues gushing from the Deepwater Horizon well. The big questions are still: what exactly happened, what is being done about it, and where is the oil going? Keep in mind that regardless of what safeguards or prohibitions the United States puts on deep water drilling in its own coastal waters, it still wants the drilling to continue and expand around the world, and so do all the world’s oil consumers. What is happening in the Gulf of Mexico could happen all along the Gulf of Guinea, and in increasingly numerous locations all around the world. Would governments be able to hold the oil companies to account for timely fixes and for damages? So far the US government is doing a poor job of protecting or investigating. There are lessons and warnings in the US Government’s approach to analysing and cleaning up following the spill.

I saw the satellite view of the spreading oil spill from May 4. The oil sheen nearest the leaking well, at the bottom of the picture, looks like a horse leaping out of the ocean and towards the gulf coast. The shape is not necessarily significant, but I certainly found it apocalyptically evocative, you can see in the detail and the original below.

Detail of the oil slick spreading in the Gulf of Mexico from a satellite picture taken May 4, 2010, and posted by SkyTruth on Flickr. The shape of the slick nearest the well looks like a horse leaping from the ocean and charging towards the Gulf coast

Oil slick spreading from the Deep Water Horizon oil well on May 4, 2010, flickr.com/photos/skytruth/4579765702/

60 Minutes interviewed a survivor of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. Based on information in that program, it looks like BP was reckless and irresponsible.

Williams says there was an accident on the rig that has not been reported before. He says, four weeks before the explosion, the rig’s most vital piece of safety equipment was damaged.

What strikes Bea is Williams’ description of the blowout preventer. Williams says in a drilling accident four weeks before the explosion, the critical rubber gasket, called an “annular,” was damaged and pieces of it started coming out of the well.

Here’s why that’s so important: the annular is used to seal the well for pressure tests. And those tests determine whether dangerous gas is seeping in.

“So if the annular is damaged, if I understand you correctly, you can’t do the pressure tests in a reliable way?” Pelley asked.

“That’s correct. You may get pressure test recordings, but because you’re leaking pressure, they are not reliable,” Bea explained.

Williams also told us that a backup control system to the blowout preventer called a pod had lost some of its functions.

“What is the standard operating procedure if you lose one of the control pods?” Pelley asked.

“Reestablish it, fix it. It’s like losing one of your legs,” Bea said.

This is a detail of the blowout preventer from the PDF: media.nola.com/news_impact/other/oil-cause-050710.pdf

You can see the complete diagram with a link to the PDF at Diagram of what happened. There is also a graphic that shows how leaking oil well might be plugged by the ‘top kill’ method. This has only been done on land before, not under the pressures at 1 mile deep.

There is an even larger potential danger from BP looming in the Gulf discussed in the 60 Minutes report:

Now, there is new concern about another BP facility in the Gulf: a former BP insider tells us the platform “Atlantis” is a greater threat than the Deepwater Horizon.

Ken Abbott has worked for Shell and GE. And in 2008 he was hired by BP to manage thousands of engineering drawings for the Atlantis platform.

They serve as blueprints and also as a operator manual, if you will, on how to make this work, and more importantly how to shut it down in an emergency,” Abbott explained.

But he says he found that 89 percent of those critical drawings had not been inspected and approved by BP engineers. Even worse, he says 95 percent of the underwater welding plans had never been approved either.

“Are these welding procedures supposed to be approved in the paperwork before the welds are done?” Pelley asked.

“Absolutely. Yeah,” Abbott replied. “They’re critical.”

Abbott’s charges are backed up by BP internal e-mails. In 2008, BP manager Barry Duff wrote that the lack of approved drawings could result in “catastrophic operator errors,” and “currently there are hundreds if not thousands of Subsea documents that have never been finalized.”

I’ve never seen this kind of attitude, where safety doesn’t seem to matter
(NYT)

Additionally:

Costly, time-consuming test of cement linings in Deepwater Horizon rig was omitted, spokesman says

BP hired a top oilfield service company to test the strength of cement linings on the Deepwater Horizon’s well, but sent the firm’s workers home 11 hours before the rig exploded April 20 without performing a final check that a top cementing company executive called “the only test that can really determine the actual effectiveness” of the well’s seal.

And what is happening to the oil, where is it going?

Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes. (NYT)

For wildlife offshore, the damage from a spill can be invisible but still deadly (click to enlarge enough to read)

Spills Effects Underwater

In addition to measuring the amount of oil, researchers need to study the effect on fish larvae and bacteria, he said. “Very big fish and very prized fish are moving in to spawn — it’s a critical time of the year,” he told HuffPost. “Larvae from the fish may end up eating droplets of oil.

Steiner said NOAA is not only failing to fully measure the impact of the spill, but, he said, “if they rationally want to close and open fisheries, then they need to know where this stuff is going.” (Huffington Post)

The highly toxic chemicals BP is pumping in at the leak and using on the surface to disperse the oil could have an even more toxic effect on sea life, and up the food chain, than the oil. The government is now started thinking about this: Gulf oil spill: EPA orders BP to use less toxic dispersant and the White House has asked BP to be more transparent. I doubt asking, even from the White House, will make a big difference.

The US Government looks like it is using the Niger Delta as a model for its response. BP and the Coast Guard turned away CBS news and threatened them with arrest. BP Attempts to Block Media From Filming Extent of Oil Spill Disaster.

As concerns about the growing devastation the BP oil spill has inflicted on Gulf Cost communities increase, reports have surfaced that BP is blocking members of the press from filming the extent of the damage. A CBS news crew attempted to film a beach in South Pass, Louisiana, obscured by a thick coat of oil, and was barred from doing so by BP contractors and two coast guard officers aboard a boat who threatened to arrest the film crew. When asked why filming along the beach was not permitted they were told, “This is BP’s rules, it’s not ours.”

This is not the first report of such an incident. There have been other reports of camera and video equipment being confiscated or banned.

… After a boat tour of the affected areas along the coast, Jindal stated “the day that we have all been fearing is upon us today. This wasn’t tar balls. This wasn’t sheen. This is heavy oil in our wetlands. It’s already here but we know more is coming.”

The amount of oil sweeping the coast has caused many to believe that BP has misled the white house, government officials and the public by alleging that only 5,000 barrels of oil a day are leaking from the Deepwater Horizon. In fact, some scientists believe that approximately 25,000 barrels of oil could be leaking a day. Some reports have quoted a number as high as 80, 000 barrels of oil a day. These numbers have prompted Congressman Edward Markey to send a letter to BP asking the question that has been on everyone’s mind: “how much oil is leaking into the Gulf and how much oil can be expected to end up on our shores and our ocean environment?”

The fact that the Coast Guard is assisting BP in blocking the public’s right to know is particularly worrisome. Using Nigeria as a model, in the Niger Delta we have seen repeatedly the Nigerian government and the oil companies pointing at each other and saying we can’t do anything, our hands are tied, they are the only ones with the authority/ability/responsibility to act.  Anyone who tries to observe or investigate is subjected to arrest or worse. And nothing gets done for environmental protection or infrastructure development. In fact we can look at the Niger Delta to see the environmental effects when enormous amounts of oil are spilled on coastal wetlands.

Up to 13 million barrels of oil have spilled in the Niger Delta ecosystem over the past 50 years, representing about 50 times the estimated volume spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989. Niger Delta Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Project, PDF.

The EPA is saying BP is collecting the data, and they can’t compel BP to publish it, BP withholds oil spill facts — and government lets it.

WASHINGTON — BP, the company in charge of the rig that exploded last month in the Gulf of Mexico, hasn’t publicly divulged the results of tests on the extent of workers’ exposure to evaporating oil or from the burning of crude over the gulf, even though researchers say that data is crucial in determining whether the conditions are safe.

As Cynthia Kouril points out:

The EPA, the Coast Guard and OSHA don’t need anybody’s permission to take air or water samples. They don’t need anybody’s permission to ask those shrimp boat captains to wear a second air quality monitoring patch and turn those back to OSHA for analysis. They don’t need anybody’s permission to send their own remote cameras or submarines down to take pictures of the plume—at least NASA seems to “get” this, the space station folks have been taking photos of the oil spill without waiting for BP’s blessing.

BP may control the data from the patches on the shrimp boater’s sleeves and it may control its own data — which could still be pried loose with either an administrative or criminal subpoena, and probably should be — but nothing prevents the government from doing its own sampling. The notion that the federal agencies responsible for environmental, health and safety are somehow helpless bystanders is just nuts, or bullpucky. In fact, EPA, like NASA has already begun its own efforts.

The oil is now on its way out of the Gulf:

More oil than is already visible could be entering the Loop Current, which could carry it past the Florida Keys and up the Atlantic coast.

MODIS/Terra satellite image taken May 17, 2010, shows oil slick being entrained in the Loop Current, with a broad conveyor-belt-like extension of the slick sweeping in a gentle arc to the southeast and reaching 222 miles (357 km) from the location of the leaking well. Slick and sheen covers 10,170 square miles (26,341 km2), almost 100% larger than was visible in the 5/14 radar image.

The Loop Current that sometimes forms in the Gulf of Mexico connects to the Florida Current that is part of the Gulf Stream system. On the average, the inner edge of the Florida Current is within 10 miles of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, FL. In this illustration of the Loop Current and the Florida Current, the colors on the color wheel correspond to the directions of the currents, blue, red, cyan, yellow for north, south, east, and west.

“The fact that NOAA has missed the ball catastrophically on the tracking and effects monitoring of this spill is inexcusable,” said Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska marine conservationist … “They need 20 research ships on this, yesterday.”

Steiner explained: “This is probably turning out to be the largest oil spill in U.S. history and the most unique oil spill in world history,” on account of it occurring not on or near the surface, but nearly a mile below.

“They should have had a preexisting rapid response plan,” he told HuffPost. “They should have had vessels of opportunity — shrimp vessels, any vessel that can deploy a water-column sampling device — pre-contracted, on a list, to be called up in an event that this happened. And they blew it. And it’s been going on for a month now, and all that information has been lost.”

“I think that should be one of our biggest concerns, getting the technology and the research to try to understand how big this amorphous mass of water is, and how it moves,” he said.

It’s like an iceberg. Most of it is below the surface. And we just have no instruments below the surface that can help us monitor the size, the concentration and the movement.” (Huffington Post)

Envisat ASAR radar satellite image (black and white) taken May 18, 2010, shows oil slick entrained in the Loop Current and spreading out to the southeast. Slick and sheen covers 15,976 square miles (41,377 km2), about 50% larger than seen in yesterday's MODIS image and about twice the size of New Jersey. Image courtesy CSTARS. flickr.com/photos/skytruth/4622687873/

Here is more detail on the Gulf Loop Current:

The Gulf Loop is a strong current in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. It can be a short loop or stretched very long. When it is long, it often pinches off a spinning body of water called an eddy . These eddies drift westward over many weeks. They slowly lose energy in the western Gulf. This cycle repeats itself several times a year.

graphic of a 3D model of the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico

1. Warm water from the Caribbean Sea enters the gulf.

2. A “Loop Current” gradually forms in the eastern gulf. Eventually, the loop breaks off and forms an eddy.

3. The eddy has a core of warm water, and rotates clockwise as it moves west across the gulf. Clockwise-rotating eddies in the northern hemisphere are called anticyclones.

4. Smaller eddies spin off the warm anticyclones. These rotate in the opposite direction, and are called cyclones.

A. In an anticyclone, warm water converges in the eddy center and is pushed toward the seaþoor [sic, sea floor]. Anticyclones contain few nutrients to support plant and animal life. They can be thought of as “ocean deserts.”

B. Cyclones draw cold, nutrient-rich water from the deep gulf up toward the surface. Near the surface the combination of sunlight and plenty of nutrients creates an “ocean oasis,” with abundant plankton for marine animals to eat.

When the oil gets into the ocean currents it can begin to travel the entire globe. If it is possible for some rubber ducks to travel the globe on the currents, it will certainly be possible for this vast volume of oil. Of course, just like the rubber duckies, oil does break apart and biodegrade. Below is some description of global ocean currents:

At the earth’s poles, when water freezes, the salt doesn’t necessarily freeze with it, so a large volume of dense cold, salt water is left behind. When this dense water sinks to the ocean floor, more water moves in to replace it, creating a current. The new water also gets cold and sinks, continuing the cycle and creating the Global Conveyor Belt.

The global conveyor belt begins with the cold water near the North Pole and heads south between South America and Africa toward Antarctica, partly directed by the landmasses it encounters. In Antarctica, it gets recharged with more cold water and then splits in two directions -- one section heads to the Indian Ocean and the other to the Pacific Ocean. As the two sections near the equator, they warm up and rise to the surface in what you may remember as upwelling. When they can't go any farther, the two sections loop back to the South Atlantic Ocean and finally back to the North Atlantic Ocean, where the cycle starts again.

The global conveyor belt moves much more slowly than surface currents — a few centimeters per second, compared to tens or hundreds of centimeters per second. Scientists estimate that it takes one section of the belt 1,000 years to complete one full circuit of the globe. However slow it is, though, it moves a vast amount of water — more than 100 times the flow of the Amazon River.

In addition to the Global Conveyor Belt there are a variety of great gyre currents in the world’s oceans. All the currents and their feeders, spinoffs and eddies have the potential to carry the oil.

Circular wind patterns create spiral ocean currents called gyres. Five major gyres flow both north and south of the equator: the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific and Indian Ocean gyres. Smaller gyres also exist at the poles, and one circulates around Antarctica. Short-lasting, smaller currents often spin off both small and large gyres.

The currents may work to clean up the spill as well as spread it around. This article from Nieman Watchdog points out:

  • Crude oil is a natural substance, composed of a galaxy of hydrocarbon compounds, ranging from gasoline to tar. Compared to infinitely more toxic refined oil products like Diesel fuel, it is unstable and tends to disintegrate into volatile compounds.
  • Much of it will evaporate, given the right conditions.
  • What won’t evaporate will be attacked by oil-eating microbes in the sea water.
  • The degree of evaporation and the success of the microbe attack will depend upon several factors:
    1. The chemistry of the crude oil in question.
    2. The temperature of the air and of the water.
    3. The dynamic action of sun, wind and waves at the spill site.

  • The BP spill is unquestionably a calamity. There will be enormous costs, including costs to fish and wildlife interests. There will be some wetlands damage. But many of the same factors that ameliorated the Tobago spill are at work off the mouth of the Mississippi. Strong southeast winds have been spreading the spill and encouraging its evaporation. Air temperatures in the 80s water temperatures in the 70s and plenty of sun have encouraged the attack of oil-eating microbes.

    The month before the oil spill in Tobago [July 1979] the Mexican oil company Pemex had its Ixtoc I rig blow out in the Bay of Campeche, 600 miles south of the Texas coast. That resulted in one of the largest oil spills in history. The drilling platform burned and collapsed in an accident intriguingly similar to that of the BP rig off Louisiana. The well leaked from 10,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day for eight months before it was capped. Yet resulting coastal damage was minimal.

    How much oil there is, how widespread the damage, and how long it will take to recover are all still unknown. And the federal government does not seem to be in a hurry to learn. Wildlife and human beings will suffer, how many, how much, and how long are all still unknown.

    ________

    Update: May 24:

    How Much Oil’s Spilling? It’s Not Rocket Science


    Once one converts all the units and multiplies these numbers, the calculations show that a bit more than 70,000 barrels of oil have been leaking out of the pipe daily. He’s [Wereley] since upped his estimate by another 20,000 barrels a day because of other smaller leaks.

    Wereley said that the leak may be 20 percent more or less than his best estimate, but it’s still far, far above the 5,000 barrels per day that BP kept proclaiming until very recently — about 20 times as great.

    And from John Robb at Global Guerrillas

    LEAKING LEGITIMACY

    … prominent oceanographers [are] accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate scientific analysis of the damage and of allowing BP to obscure the spill’s true scope… The scientists point out that in the month since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, the government has failed to make public a single test result on water from the deep ocean. …

    Over the last month, it’s become increasingly clear that there is a coordinated information operations campaign in place to downplay the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The US government and British Petroleum have imposed a scientific and media blackout to prevent the gathering of the information on the oil leak needed to generate precise estimates …

    Why is this effort in place? To reduce the political damage to both the government and BP. …

    Of course, this type of behavior is extremely bad over the longer term. Why is it so bad? For an increasing number of people it is yet another example of an approach, reinforced by ongoing global financial disasters, that uses media manipulation and confidence boosting as a substitute for real solutions. It fails to punish bad behavior due to the need for collusion between the government and the offending corporations to construct the information campaign. It fails to construct real solutions since the facts are not known and the number of people able to address the problem is extremely limited. Also, since these people are the same people that caused the crisis, real solutions are avoided to prevent adverse publicity. Most importantly, it is yet another body blow to the nation-state and the global market system as legitimate organizational constructs.

    The US Embassy in Accra refused a visa to the Ghana Minister of Energy in March and refused a visa for the Chairman of the GNPC, Ghana National Petroleum Commission, to visit the US.

    US and Ghana are in a diplomatic row in which it appears … that the US government is consciously targeting some key government officials for standing in the way of American interests in Ghana.

    [An official of GNPC] is reported to have told insiders that a consular officer at the US embassy told him that GNPC was “Anti- American”

    Map of Ghana offshore oil fields including Jubilee and Dzata

    Of course the job of the GNPC is to enable Ghana to make the best use of Ghana’s petroleum resources for the benefit of the Ghanaian people, not the American people. It is trying to correct some unethical deals involving Kosmos, the EO Group, and Exxon, that would have caused financial loss to Ghana. If the US acknowleges the sovereignty of sovereign nations, it needs to respect Ghana’s sovereignty. If the US does not respect Ghanaian sovereignty, and it appears that it does not, its motives and methods are a clear and obvious throwback to colonialism.

    The US has a very bad record when it comes to undermining and destabilizing governments that are not doing what the US wants, or when they are perceived by some as standing in the way of American interests. In this case, as in most, it is American corporate interests. Exxon wanted to buy the Kosmos share of Ghana’s oil. This move by the US Embassy in denying visas to Ghanaians who are critical to the Ghana oil industry is very worrisome. In what other ways is the US Embassy working against the interests of the Ghanaian people and the current Ghanaian government? This is a grave and dangerous development.

    Ghana is generally very pro American. But Ghanaians do not wish to be pushed around. And most Ghanaians are familiar with the fact that the US Embassy and the American CIA played a major role in the events leading to the overthrow of Nkrumah. The destructive ramifications of that action still reverberate throughout the continent. Ghana would not welcome this kind of interference again. I doubt other countries would look on it favorably.

    In addition the US Africa Command has been very active and very controversial in Ghana. Most Ghanaians think that AFRICOM is in Ghana and in the rest of Africa to secure oil and other natural resources for the United States. Since that is the reason the command was created, there is some justification for this view. The US Africa Command maintains a local headquarters in the US Embassy in Accra, and is deeply involved in what it calls partnering with a variety of Ghanaian military activities.

    You will find some more background on Kosmos and Ghana oil here, EO -Kosmos Rip-Off Exposed with a list of links bottom that provide more background and context .

    While the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) toiled over the years in pursuit of a vision that others described as a mirage, their critics were quietly lining up to plunder ‘the spoils.’

    As the controversy over how the E.O. Group a Ghanaian company, came by 3.5% carried interest in US-based Kosmos Energy’s initial 90% stake in the West Cape Three Points (WCTP) rages on, it has emerged that the Kufuor administration lowered the finishing tape for Kosmos Energy and EO Group at the expense of our beloved Ghana.

    As part of its vision of ensuring that Ghana maximized its earnings from harnessing the country’s hydrocarbon potential, GNPC, since the 1980s, evolved a model petroleum agreement, which has served as a blue print for preparing petroleum agreements to license its blocks of oil fields to oil companies that came to explore for the ‘black gold’ in Ghana.

    Whereas under previous petroleum agreements, royalties had been pegged between 10% – 12.5%, this was slashed to 5% under the Petroleum Agreement the Kufuor Government and GNPC signed with Kosmos Energy, and their E.O. partners. GNPC participation interest, a provision in petroleum agreements, which allows GNPC to acquire additional stake in the event of a commercial find, used to be 10%-15%, under previous petroleum agreements. However, this was also slashed down to 2.5%, under the petroleum agreement signed with Kosmos-E.O. Group, leaving it standing like a sore thumb, when matched against all other petroleum agreements, including those subsequently signed with other companies under the Kufuor regime.

    The Managing Director of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye, has said the corporation’s decision to acquire the Kosmos Energy stake in the Jubilee Field, is necessary and critical to ensuring that Ghanaians derived the maximum benefits from the country’s oil resources. According to the GNPC boss, the state oil corporation, has already secured the necessary funding to acquire the stakes, and were in discussions with Kosmos Energy, who voluntarily decided to sell their stakes.

    GNPC’s Chief Economic Evaluation and Monitoring Officer, Mr. Kwame Ntow Amoah … emphasized the need for GNPC to acquire the Kosmos Energy stake in Ghana’s oil fields and explained that apart from the 10% initial carried interest, GNPC has exercised its right of acquiring additional interests in the Jubilee field. He explained that apart from these, royalties and income tax earnings from the oil sale would leave the nation with over 50% of the profits from the oil.

    This is a much better deal for Ghana.

    Here is the full article about the denial of US visas to Ghanian officials.

    US & Ghana In Diplomatic Row

    …Energy Minister & Atto Ahwoi denied visa.
    ..Govt. Fingers oil Politics

    There is a growing nerve racking diplomat anxiety between some top ranks of the Ghana government towards the US Embassy in Accra, resulting in suspicion that the US government is consciously targeting some key government officials for standing in the way of American interest in Ghana.

    On the controversy scale, the row has reached almost showdown levels, with some key government officials threatening to boycott travels to the US.

    There are serious murmurings within the corridors of the Ministry of Energy and GNPC that their insistence on exercising their right of first purchase of the oil interest of Kosmos Energy as against the company’s attempt to sell it’s oil interest to a fellow American company -Exxon Mobil (albeit through the backdoor) appears to have angered the US Embassy who are allegedly employing “embarrassing” diplomatic retaliatory tools targeted at key personalities in the energy sector.

    According to The Enquirer’s deep throat sources, The Minister of Energy, Dr. Oteng Adjei, who was leading a government delegation to the USA to attend a meeting with Blackstone and Warburg Pincus the financiers of Kosmos Energy was on March 27th, this year denied visa.

    The Energy Minister had applied for the visa with his diplomatic passport. Sources say, the embassy’s actions angered Osu Castle, the seat of Ghana’s Presidency, and that it took the personal intervention of the usually quiet and genteel Chief of Staff of Henry Martey Newman to secure a travelling visa for the Minister.

    On May 7th, 2010, Mr. Atto Ahwoi, Board Chairman of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), who returned from the USA last March, was refused visa by the embassy. Mr. Ahwoi has travelled to the US about 20 times and attended Harvard University in the United States, so many years ago.

    When The Enquirer contacted Mr. Ahwoi, he confirmed that the embassy had refused him a Non Immigrant Visa and expressed his surprise at what he called the surprising attitude of the embassy to certain key government people.

    When he was asked the reason for the refusal, he read out a letter given to him and signed by an unnamed consular officer which among other things stated that: “You have been temporally refused a visa under INA Section 221G, as you lack certain documents or information needed to reach a decision in your case. For further instructions please refer to the Checked Box below” he read out.

    He continued that the checked box read “We need to verify certain documents you have given us or statements you have made. We will contact you at the telephone numbers you provided us as soon as investigations are completed. There is nothing else you need to do at this stage”

    When asked whether he shared sentiments that his refusal had anything to with his position on the Kosmos-Energy deal, he said that could be the only reason. “This is about the 20th time I have been to the US, I schooled in the US, I attended Harvard University, At my age, I will not be migrating to the US, why this sudden change” he said.

    Early this year, a top officer of GNPC working within the Human Resource Department was also refused travelling visa whilst attempting to travel to US on official assignment.

    The official is reported to have told insiders that a consular officer at the US embassy told him that GNPC was “Anti- American”

    US EMBASSY RESPONDS

    When The Enquirer contacted the US Embassy for comments, Mr. Benjamin East, Information Officer stated that the embassy had no comments to all the issues raised above.

    In a telephone and email response the embassy said “The response at bottom applies to the three parts of your question, as I understand it, ie:

    1. That the Embassy refused a visa to the Minister of Energy in March, which was issued eventually due to intervention by the Chief of Staff.

    2. That the Embassy refused a visa for the Chairman of the GNPC.

    3. That the visa cases cited above are a response by the U.S. Government to recent actions/decisions taken with regards to Kosmos’ sale of its Jubilee stake to Exxon”.

    RESPONSE:

    “U.S. law prohibits the Embassy from commenting on individual visa cases.” Mr. Ahwoi, told The Enquirer that “I have decided I wont go there again, any American who wants to do business with us, must come here”

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