Monday, February 18, 2008

No Welcome Mat for Africa Command

It looks as though the US military's Africa Command will be headquartered in Germany for the time being.

The latest US military command, created last October, has been unable to find an African nation, save for Liberia, willing to accommodate it. According to Voice of America, several African countries have "expressed reservations about having AFRICOM on the continent, claiming it could signal an expansion of American influence there."

"... it's the military component of AFRICOM that seems to be the problem for Africans. The Southern African Development Community, or SADC, has said it will not welcome American forces on any of its member country's territory."

Observers say some African nations worry AfriKom may be a Trojan Horse to insinuate American military muscle onto the continent.


Stephen said...

In last month's 'Grand Strategy' report on renewing NATO, five former NATO defence officials, including John Shalikashvili, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States of America, were pretty clear about the purposes of AFRICOM:

"The United States has, in recent years, shifted its dependency on gas and oil imports from the Middle East to Africa. As a consequence of this increased interest in Africa, the US is in the process of establishing the US African Command
(AFRICOM), to protect its strategic interests. It is increasing energy investment and is seeking to counteract radicalisation among Africa’s Muslims. Although AFRICOM will not be fully operational until September 2008, its activities will principally focus on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, cooperation with the African Union and strengthening military–military relationships. Its establishment reveals an increased strategic interest in Africa on the part of the US."

The Mound of Sound said...

I think those purposes seem a lot more clear to NATO officials than to African leaders. Their experience of Western nations hasn't always been pleasant and the timing of this initiative won't do anything to ease their concerns.

The Mound of Sound said...

And Steve, bear in mind that those African leaders see America ruled by Dick Cheney who voted against senate resolutions demanding that Nelson Mandella be freed. I think America has left a rich history of what its military presence can mean - from the Caribbean to Central and South America to the Middle East. Once America gets bases in Africa it'll be a whole new ball game for those folks and they know it.

Borges said...

Don't they already have something pretty similar in Djibouti anyway?

The Mound of Sound said...

Djibouti has always had a Western military presence, French, so you're probably right. I think that America's eyes are on Nigeria and Africa's oilfields.