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U.S. deploys Special Forces, military ‘advisers’ to Central Africa

Published Oct 19, 2011 5:19 PM

Another U.S. military intervention is underway, this time in Central Africa. The Obama administration announced on Oct. 14 that the Pentagon is deploying 100 military advisers and Special Forces troops to four countries: Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The White House claims this mission’s purpose is to capture or kill Joseph Kony, the leader of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, which has been carrying out a war against the Ugandan government for more than two decades. Members of the LRA have also set up camps in the eastern region of the DRC and possibly South Sudan, which recently gained independence from the central government of Sudan based in Khartoum.

This announcement follows the Pentagon intervention in the North African state of Libya earlier this year. In February, the U.S. and other imperialist states supported a rebellion and eventual civil war against the government of Moammar Gadhafi.

After the initial failure of the National Transitional Council opposition “rebels” to take control of Libya, the U.S. and other NATO powers began a naval blockade and aerial bombing campaign against this oil-producing state. More than 20,000 sorties and approximately 9,500 air strikes have been carried out against Libya’s 6 million people.

NTC forces entered Tripoli in late August and proclaimed victory, although resistance remains fierce against the NATO-led rebels in several areas of the western, central and southern areas of the country, including the capital. This time the U.S. is using the atrocities committed by the LRA as a pretext for military intervention.

What’s at stake in Central Africa

Corporate media reports have failed to reveal the U.S. ruling class’ extensive strategic interests in Central Africa. In Uganda, where these military units will be based, the government of President Yoweri Museveni has been a longtime ally of successive U.S. administrations.

Oil has recently been discovered in Uganda, and there are already internal investigations into allegations of corruption involving government officials and transnational corporations seeking to exploit the vast petroleum resources. Uganda has been the recipient of military assistance and political support from the U.S. for many years.

In providing political cover for this intervention, the corporate media have claimed that there are no strategic interests in Uganda that would provide an economic incentive for intervention. An article published in the Oct. 17 National Post reports: “Whenever critics of American foreign policy denounce the Iraq war or even the Afghan campaign, there typically is a casual insinuation that these are colonial or quasi-colonial undertakings aimed at stripping the local nation of its resources.”

This same article falsely claims that “most [U.S.] interventions, including those in Haiti and Kosovo, involve parts of the world that have little strategic or mercantile value. Uganda is a perfect example.”

On the contrary, far from being a “mission to fight human suffering,” as the National Post claims, there is already word of a potential $10 billion U.S. investment through the Tullow Oil Corp. An ad-hoc parliamentary committee and the Anti-corruption Court in Uganda are investigating three cabinet members for allegedly taking bribes from Tullow. Business Week reports, “Tullow Oil allegedly paid bribes to the tune of US$100 million to officials to influence decisions.” (Oct. 17)

And then there are strategic interests. The Ugandan government has worked on behalf of U.S. military interests in East and Central Africa for many years. In 1998, the Clinton administration waged a proxy war against the Laurent Kabila government in the Democratic Republic of Congo by financing and coordinating the military invasion of the country, along with Rwanda.

This invasion, which compelled the Southern African Development Community states of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia to intervene in defense of the DRC, resulted in the deaths of a great number of people throughout the region until a ceasefire was reached in 2003.

Since 2003, the situation in eastern DRC has been tense and unstable. While greater cooperation exists today among the various countries in Central, East and Southern Africa, the vast reservoir of strategic minerals in the eastern DRC remains a source of conflict between rebel groups and the central government based in Kinshasa. Meanwhile, the imperialist powers in Europe and North America are looking for ways to play one side against the other to get the lion’s share of the resources.

The DRC is the world’s largest producer of cobalt. It is also a major producer of copper and industrial diamonds and contains 70 percent of the world’s supply of coltan — used in the manufacture of cell phones, DVD systems and computers — and 30 percent of international diamond reserves.

South Sudan became an independent state in July after a two-decade civil war with the government in Khartoum. Sudan is one of the emerging oil-rich states producing 500,000 barrels per day. The oil concessions in Sudan were largely in partnership with the People’s Republic of China and other Asian and Middle Eastern states.

Since the secession of South Sudan, where 80 percent of the country’s untapped oil deposits exist, the region is open to greater penetration by Western-based oil firms in the United States and Europe. The U.S. was a major proponent of splitting off South Sudan from the central government, as well as supporting the secessionist rebel movements in the western region of Darfur.