Kidnapping off Nigeria exposes U.S. expanded role

A series of military operations and engagements in the countries of West Africa near the Gulf of Guinea have exposed the continuing United States military buildup in the region.

Countries in Africa cannot move toward genuine national independence, unity and sovereignty given the high levels of Pentagon and intelligence penetration from the U.S. and its NATO allies that have recently been exposed.

The latest incident occurred when so-called pirates reportedly kidnapped two U.S. citizens transporting oil supplies from Nigeria on Oct. 23. Nigerian Navy spokesperson Kabiru Aliyu told ThisDay newspaper of Oct. 28 that the navy had “deployed search-and-rescue teams, who are currently combing the creeks.” ThisDay also reported that the FBI and State Department were leading the U.S. effort, and a small U.S. Marine Corps training unit was in the region.

The Nigerian armed forces held exercises with U.S., British, Dutch and Spanish forces near Lagos on Oct. 18. Nigeria, a leading oil producer, is the largest African exporter of crude oil to the U.S.

Washington’s armed forces have established numerous programs in conjunction with regional governments. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), through its new commander, Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, claimed that the increased presence of Pentagon personnel was to curb illegal activity related to piracy and drug trafficking.

An offshore military base has already been made operational in the Gulf of Guinea. The maintenance of the base is carried out mainly by the U.S. but involves many African states.

This base off the coast of West Africa is part of a number of such installations throughout the continent and its waterways. Similar naval operations exist in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, where Pentagon and European Union naval forces patrol the area utilizing a flotilla of warships.

The importance of the U.S. operations in the Gulf of Guinea was described by the magazine Maritime Executive as significant within the Pentagon’s broader stra­tegic outlook for Africa. Key among the offshore bases, comments the publica­tion, “is the Africa Partnership Station, an initiative that has grown over the past six years to include more than 30 African, Euro­pean and North and South American countries.” This includes stationing 90 U.S. Marines and Dutch, Spanish and British forces in Africa Station 2013, currently underway off the West African coast. (Oct. 28)

Another U.S. operation in West Africa centers on building relationships with the nation of Cameroon, also an oil – and natural-gas-producing state. With the pretext of stopping crime, Exercise Obangame Express 2013 involved 12 warships from 10 countries off the coast of Cameroon in February. Plans for more joint exercises are already underway for 2014.

In the Cape Verde Islands, near the state of Guinea-Bissau — both former Portuguese colonies that won their independence through a protracted armed struggle during the 1960s and 1970s — the Pentagon is engaging in naval operations with the local armed forces. Cape Verde is often reported in the corporate media as a center for illicit drug trafficking.

Despite the “crime” pretext, the principal focus of activity by the Pentagon centers in areas where there are oil, natural gas and other strategic resources. Thousands of Pentagon forces and intelligence operatives are being redeployed from Central Asia and the Middle East to place more military concentration on the continent.

At least 100 operations involving ­AFRICOM are already planned for next year. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an additional 4,000 African Union troops in Somalia, to bolster the U.S.-created and -backed federal government in Mogadishu.