More U.S. interference planned
New covert action initiative in Africa
Published Jun 7, 2010 9:55 PM
Recent international press reports indicate that the U.S. military has started
a renewed covert action plan to send special operations commandos into areas of
the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The objective of this policy is
in part to carry out targeted assassinations against people considered U.S.
The secret directive was issued and signed in September 2009 by Gen. David H.
Petraeus, head of the U.S. Military Central Command. The seven-page document
has been described as both the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force
Executive Order and the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute
Even though the reports claim that the Task Force will go after al-Qaeda and
its affiliates, the order targets areas in the Horn of Africa where resistance
forces are operating against U.S.-backed regimes in Somalia, Ethiopia and
Djibouti. In Somalia the fragile Transitional Federal Government has received
substantial financial and military assistance from the U.S. administrations of
both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Mark Mazzetti reported, “While the Bush administration had approved some
clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is
intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said.
Its goals are to build networks that could ‘penetrate, disrupt, defeat or
destroy’ Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to ‘prepare
the environment’ for future attacks by American or local military forces,
the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive
strikes in any specific countries.” (New York Times, May 24)
This recent revelation seems to designate to the Pentagon tasks which were
previously carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA has voiced
no opposition to the Petraeus order, which continues the pattern of covert
operations such as drone attacks and other forms of targeted
According to the document quoted in the New York Times, “The order from
Central Command is focused on gathering intelligence in the target countries
‘by American troops, foreign businesspeople, academics or others, to
pinpoint threats, identify militants and forge persistent situational
awareness.’” (Associated Press, May 25)
This document confirms the increasing aggressive military and intelligence
operations on the part of the Obama administration. The United States Africa
Command (AFRICOM) has received additional funding under Obama, while increased
military maneuvers and joint operations have been carried out in West Africa
and offshore in the Gulf of Guinea.
Main U.S. targets
U.S. foreign policy in Africa has targeted Somalia in order to prevent the
resistance forces of Hizbul Islam and Al-Shabab from taking power from the
U.S.-backed TFG. Also the neighboring Ethiopian government of Meles Zenawi has
been closely allied with the U.S. and receives significant military assistance
In Djibouti both France and the U.S. maintain military bases inside the
country. Offshore in the Gulf of Aden, the U.S., the European Union and other
states have flotillas of warships designed to prevent attacks on vessels
flowing through one of most lucrative shipping lanes in the world.
Other states targeted for U.S. covert operations include Sudan in central
Africa where the government has come under pressure for its efforts to quell a
rebel insurgency in the western region of Darfur. The International Criminal
Court has issued warrants for the arrests of Sudanese President Omar Hassan
al-Bashir and other leading government officials.
Even though the United States is not party to the ICC, the foreign policy of
the Obama administration and the European Union is designed to bring about
regime-change in Sudan. An internationally supervised election in Sudan during
April that resulted in the victory of the ruling National Congress Party and
the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement did not halt the
efforts to undermine this African state.
In the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, the United States has continued its
plans to topple President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front from the national unity government that has included the
Western-backed Movement for Democratic Change political factions. Economic
sanctions remain against Zimbabwe, and a recent diplomatic assault by U.S.
Undersecretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson resulted in a rebuke by the
Zimbabwean Ambassador to the United States. (Zimbabwe Herald, May 26)
In Nigeria the Obama administration has placed nationals from the oil-producing
West African state on a list that requires special scrutiny at airports for
flights bound for the United States. In a recent statement, the U.S. made
demands on how the electoral commission should be structured inside Nigeria,
saying that preparations for national elections were not moving fast enough.
(News Agency of Nigeria, May 31)
Such actions by the United States illustrate clearly that this imperialist
state is stepping up its efforts to further control the internal affairs of
various African states as well as influence and dominate developments in the
Middle East and Central Asia as mandated by the Joint Unconventional Warfare
U.S.’s sordid history
Covert action aimed at influencing events in Africa has been a hallmark of U.S.
foreign policy toward the continent for decades. In areas where there was a
perceived threat of genuine political independence and a movement toward
socialism, the U.S. has utilized the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department
and other organs of the imperialist state to undermine sovereignty and national
In Congo during 1960, the Eisenhower administration plotted to isolate,
overthrow and assassinate Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. These covert action
plans against Lumumba were revealed during Congressional hearings held in 1975.
They resulted in the formation of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,
chaired by Idaho Democratic Senator, Frank Church.
One former National Security staffer, Robert Johnson, testified at these
hearings about a high-level meeting between President Eisenhower and
top-ranking intelligence officers in 1960 where a decision was made to
assassinate Patrice Lumumba. As a result of Lumumba’s assassination and
other destabilization activities, the country has never been able to achieve
genuine national independence over a period of five decades. (The Congo Cables,
Madelaine Kalb, 1982, p. 54)
In February 1966, the revolutionary and socialist-oriented government of
President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was overthrown by lower-ranking officers of
the military and the police. The operation was again influenced and coordinated
by the U.S. State Department and the CIA.
After Nkrumah published his book “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of
Imperialism” in 1965, a formal protest was launched by the U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs, former Michigan Governor G. Mennen
Williams. A cable delivered to the then Ghanaian Ambassador to the United
States Miguel Augustus Ribeiro stated: “The United States has noted with
profound alarm the attacks against the United States in President
Nkrumah’s book ... . The book appears to have been designed for the
specific purpose of creating in the minds of its readers suspicion and distrust
of the motives, intentions and actions of the United States. (Kwame Nkrumah,
Revolutionary Path, 1973, pp. 310-311)
In 1969 the Nixon administration issued the National Security Study Memorandum
No. 39 which was designed to rationalize an escalation of support for
Portuguese colonial rule in Africa as well as to fortify the political and
economic positions of white settler-colonial regimes then operating in
Rhodesia, South-West Africa and South Africa. When the South African Defense
Forces intervened in Angola to stop the consolidation of power by the Popular
Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the U.S. worked in collaboration
with the SADF through the CIA and private mercenaries.
It was this set of circumstances that prompted the Cuban internationalists to
come to the aid of the MPLA and other fraternal African states and liberation
movements from 1975 until 1988, resulting in the defeat of the SADF. The U.S.
has never supported any genuine liberation movement in Africa or in other
regions of the world.
Anti-imperialists must show solidarity
The adoption of this new covert action initiative on the part of the Pentagon
must be opposed by anti-war and anti-imperialist groups inside the United
States. These practices will ultimately lead to the deaths of many nationals
from the targeted states and to stifling the right of oppressed and colonial
peoples to self-determination.
Although in 2010 the focus of attention for U.S. imperialism is what they call
“Islamic extremism or terrorism,” the ultimate objective of this
interference in the internal affairs of African states and other geopolitical
regions is the same as it was during the 1960s through the 1980s — to
ensure the political and economic dominance of world capitalism over the
resources of the planet.
People inside the U.S. and other imperialist countries must demonstrate their
principled solidarity by opposing these military operations. Anti-imperialists
must also advance the right of all oppressed people to independence and
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