A recent article in the Washington Post by Craig Whitlock titled “U.S. Expands Secret Intelligence Operations in Africa,”(1) has generated interest among many different circles. It talks about the expansion of a spy and surveillance program that utilizes small aircraft for reconnaissance missions in different African countries. These are often operated by private mercenary companies. The article also gives light to the plans of U.S. imperialism to expand its military presence in Africa.
The Global War on Terror of the past decade has seen U.S. imperial forces expand in many regions of the globe, and Africa is a key site in its expansion. AFRICOM was created in 2007, and has constantly expanded since. The CIA is also expanding its programs in Africa. This spy program reported on shows an increasing long-term presence for U.S. forces on the continent.
As the Post reports, “At the heart of the surveillance operations are small, unarmed turboprop aircraft disguised as private planes. Equipped with hidden sensors that can record full-motion video, track infrared heat patterns, and vacuum up radio and cellphone signals, the planes refuel on isolated airstrips favored by African bush pilots, extending their effective flight range by thousands of miles.”
This network operates through about a dozen air bases that have been constructed since 2007, along with smaller airfields used by bush pilots to be used for refueling. With this expanded program the countries the U.S. has a military presence in include Mauritania, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Seychelles, and plans for a base in the newly-independent South Sudan. These surveillance programs, going by names like Creek Sand, Tusker Wing, and Aztec Archer, are operated by U.S. Special Operations forces. Its basis involve collaboration with national military forces, and reliance on private mercenary contractors. This latter also gives them a range of deniability.
The hub of this network is based in Burkina Faso, based in that country due to its purported stability. There a base flies surveillance missions around Mali, site of a recent coup and an independence struggle of the Tuaregs. (2) Other countries pinpointed include Nigeria and Somalia, targeting Al Qaeda affilates there. Uganda is a main target also, along with its neighbors in Central Africa, against the Lords Resistance Army and Joseph Kony. Uganda also has U.S. military advisors(3) and has been a target by imperialist-leaning NGO’s to gain support for more intervention. (4)
Despite the number of conflicts in these places, even the Washington Post sees them as local internal affairs that do not threaten the U.S. directly.
“The creeping U.S. military involvement in long-simmering African conflicts, however, carries risks. Some State Department officials have expressed reservations about the militarization of U.S. foreign policy on the continent. They have argued that most terrorist cells in Africa are pursuing local aims, not global ones, and do not present a direct threat to the United States.
The potential for creating a popular backlash can be seen across the Red Sea, where an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen is angering tribesmen and generating sympathy for an al-Qaeda franchise there.”
In further reports of escalating intervention in Africa, the Army is planning to send 3,000 troops to Africa in different missions training militaries and assisting locals to further U.S. interests.(5) The article reporting this states: “Though U.S. soldiers have operated in Africa for decades, including more than 1,200 soldiers currently stationed at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, the region in many ways remains the Army’s last frontier.” This colonialist mindset guides the militaristic actions of the U.S. More collaboration with the militaries of comprador governments in Africa under humanitarian guises will continue. But as history shows, militaries that have collaborated with the U.S. use their training to repress their own people in the end.
This new spy program is consistent with Obama’s national security strategy, who continues imperialist policies in a smoother direction. Relying on drone warfare and use of unconventional forces, it lessens the Amerikan casualties that would drive domestic opposition to war, even as Obama has expanded military intervention in several more countries than has Bush before him. In fact polls earlier this year showed that Obama’s national security policies were overwhelmingly supported by Americans, including a majority of liberal Democrats (6) even as these policies prove vastly unpopular to the rest of the world. (7) As U.S. imperialism continues to plunder the continent more people will unite against their common enemy. Throughout the world the people see Amerika as a thief and terrorist.
The real motives of the U.S. in Africa has always been the motives of imperialism, that of exploitation. It is to secure access to the continents vast resources, which include oil, rare earth minerals, and water, among others. What this will bring is even more lives ended needlessly by imperial capitalism. The increasing U.S. military presence throughout Africa is an ongoing shadow war against the people and nations of the continent. It is not just the “elites” who gain from this plunder. First World luxury, the American way of life, First World standards of living, would not be possible without this superexploitation, involving the death of millions of human lives. That is why this “way of life” must come to an end so that the rest of humanity can live.
With repression breeds resistance, and it will come to an end by the actions of the masses of the world. Many wars go on in Africa right now, and U.S. actions will bring about more. As Mao Zedong once stated, “We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.” Peoples wars are wars to bring about peace. We support the peoples in Africa in their united struggle against Amerikan aggressors.
1. “U.S. expands secret intelligence operations in Africa.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-expands-secret-intelligence-operations-in-africa/2012/06/13/gJQAHyvAbV_print.html