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Africa: Threat of U.S./NATO military intervention grows

Published Apr 9, 2006 11:02 PM

The United States and the former colonial powers of Europe, under the auspices of NATO and the European Union, are taking new steps to deepen their direct military intervention in Africa.

On March 29, President George W. Bush publicly called for NATO military intervention in Sudan. As justification, he repeated charges of government-sponsored genocide in the Darfur region, without mentioning the long-time interests of the U.S. in the country’s vast oil wealth, or the U.S. sponsorship of separatist forces.

Bush has bipartisan support for his latest military threats against Sudan. In the U.S. Senate, Democrat Joseph Biden and Republican Sam Brownback are sponsoring a resolution calling for NATO troops to be sent in and for the enforcement of a no-flight zone over Darfur.

President Omar al-Bashir, head of the national unity government created after the end of Sudan’s 50-year north/south civil war in 2004, warned March 20 that the U.S. “risked another Iraq” if non-African troops were sent into his country.

“We have witnessed what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and learned lessons that shouldn’t be repeated on the African continent,” said Bashir. (Reuters, March 20)

Currently 7,000 African Union peacekeepers are stationed in Darfur, along with 13,000 UN humanitarian aid workers. Washington and London have been pressuring the AU to make way for United Nations troops. Bush says he wants NATO forces to add muscle to a UN presence.

U.S.-authored resolutions being push ed through the UN Security Council are laying the groundwork for invasion— just as they did in Iraq.

In the meantime, the U.S. is providing logistical support to Rwandan army “peacekeepers” in Darfur. The Rwandan army has been implicated in genocide during its U.S.-instigated invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tens of thousands of protestors made their opposition to U.S., NATO and UN troops clear on March 8, when they rallied in Khartoum, the capital city, chanting, “Down, down U.S.A.” and “UN peacekeepers, bring your coffins.”

NATO war games

More than 7,000 troops from the new NATO Response Force (NRF) are scheduled to carry out military exercises in the mountainous archipelago of Cape Verde, off Africa’s northwest coast, from June 1 to July 12. It’s the first time NATO has held war games in Africa, and the first time such maneuvers have taken place at such a distance from Europe or North America.

“NATO to stage African show of force” was the blunt headline of a March 27 French News Agency report on the war games.

Countries of the nearby southern Sahara region were racked by famine last year after a locust plague destroyed crops in late 2004. The United States stood aside while children died of hunger. But these exercises, insisted on by Washington, have a budget of “tens of million of euros” accor d ing to AFP’s anonymous military source.

Not coincidentally, Mauritania, one of Cape Verde’s closest neighbors on Africa’s western coast and home of a major oil discovery, was the site of a popular uprising that ousted a pro-U.S. regime last year. In fact, the U.S. had initially proposed conducting the war games in the Mauritanian desert.

U.S. Gen. James L. Jones, NATO’s oper ational commander, complained March 31 that other NATO member countries were not providing promised military personnel and materials for the Cape Verde man euvers or the NRF, which is supposed to be fully operational by October 2006. Jones said there were shortfalls of 25 to 35 percent on troops and material for the coming year.

NATO leaders agreed to create the “rapid response force” at a summit in Pra gue in November 2002 - before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and subsequent rise of an intransigent Iraqi resistance.

Washington has groomed the NRF as another means of rapidly deploying troops to “trouble spots” far outside the original boundaries of the anti-Soviet North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The European capitalist powers may be dragging their heels when it comes to U.S.-dominated NATO. But that doesn’t mean these former colonial overlords want to be left out of the new “scramble for Africa.”

The European Union is planning to send 1,500 troops, under German command, to Central Africa this summer, allegedly to protect national elections scheduled for mid-June in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It will be just the second foreign deployment of German-commanded forces since World War II. The first was in 1999, during the U.S.-led war against Yugoslavia.

U.S. plan: re-colonization

Why are U.S. imperialism and its Euro pean allies/rivals pushing for more direct military control in Africa now? What does it mean for the long-struggling people of that continent, and for the anti-war and progressive movements in this country?

The plan to recolonize African countries liberated in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and to more openly dominate neocolonies, has been taking shape since the early 1990s, with the Clinton administration’s invasion of Somalia.

Then Workers World wrote: “The U.S. occupation of Somalia under the auspices of the United Nations is in many ways an experiment to test a new method for the recolonization and domination of other African countries, prized by the United States either for their strategic location or their fabulous natural resources and raw materials.

“Washington feels free to pursue an aggressive policy toward these countries now that the Soviet Union has collapsed. The mere existence of the Soviet camp served African countries as a diplomatic, economic, and military counter-weight to the designs of the U.S. and the capitalist powers in Europe. ...

“The official U.S. line is that these countries must be targeted for armed, outside (that is, U.S. and European) intervention because civil wars or potential civil wars have made these countries ‘ungovernable.’

“That, of course, is a resort to the racist, colonial position that Africa is ‘not ready for independence.’ This line also conveniently obscures the fact that the CIA has a hand in fomenting many of the same ‘civil wars.’” (WW, June 24, 1993)

Clinton’s Somalian adventure ended in disaster. The U.S. forces’ brutally racist behavior united the population in a people’s war that drove out the invaders and their superior Black Hawk-type technology -- just as Bush’s invasion of Iraq has provoked a determined people’s resistance in that country.

Nevertheless, the U.S. ruling class is still determined to seize Africa’s resources outright, and has steadily increased the pressure on debt-ridden and war-torn countries to open their markets to U.S. corporations and their lands to U.S. military bases.

Sudan has been a particular target since it opposed the first Gulf War in 1991. In Au gust 1998, then-President Clinton bombed Sudan’s main pharmaceutical plant, using fabricated evidence of chemical weapons manufacturing. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark led a fact-finding delegation that reported first-hand evidence exposing this U.S. terrorism.

Since 1999, Sudan has become a major oil exporter. Its main customer is the People’s Republic of China.

With Big Oil’s dreams of unfettered domination of Iraq going up in smoke, U.S. imperialism is lashing out - and driven to desperate acts, it is targeting oil producing countries that refuse to bow to its control, like Iran, Venezuela and Sudan.

The Bush cabal may feel that Sudan is an easy target. It is a poor country, decimated by decades of civil war and divisions rooted in its colonial history under Britain. Sudan’s government has been extensively demonized in the media, and the country’s problems are not well understood or appreciated by the progressive movement in the U.S. and Europe.

Progressive and revolutionary forces in the West must be on alert and ready to act in solidarity against U.S./NATO intervention in Sudan, Congo, Zimbabwe, and anywhere else on the continent. The heroic African people, who have shouldered so much of the burden of struggle against imperialism and HIV/AIDS, deserve nothing less.