The US is out of Somalia, but AFRICOM will remain a presence shaping Africa’s security policy and AfCFTA

The US is out of Somalia, but AFRICOM will remain a presence shaping Africa’s security policy and AfCFTA

The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is one of the eleven unified combatant commands of the United States Department of Defense. Headquarters located at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany.

The United States’ military budget is approximately $700 billion (for 2021, they will be requesting over $900 billion,) $2 billion is spent on AFRICOM. In 2021 AFRICOM is requesting a $40 million increase in its budget.

In 2007 President Bush founded AFRICOM. 

“Some people believe that we are establishing AFRICOM solely to fight terrorism, or to secure oil resources, or to discourage China. This is not true. Violent extremism is cause for concern and needs to be addressed, but this is not Africom’s singular mission. Natural resources represent Africa’s current and future wealth, but in a fair market environment, many benefit. Ironically, the US, China, and other countries share a common interest—that of a secure environment. AFRICOM is about helping Africans build greater capacity to assure their own security.”

Theresa Whelan, in 2007, then Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs—the highest-ranking Defense Department official with principal responsibility for Africa at the Pentagon, who supervised US military policy toward Africa under the Bush administration

As of 2020, the US has 7,000 personnel in Africa, 3,000 based in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, 1,000 in West Africa, and 700 special operations forces were in Somalia, but will now be repositioned in other East African countries, including Kenya.

The US military has conducted 36 operations in Africa, more than in any other region of the world, including the Middle East. 

And violence has risen in areas certain less hospitable to imperialism since the US has begun its “peacekeeping” military exercise. 

The purpose of the United States in Africa, other than helping Africa, be the best African she can be:

“Africa is the last energy frontier, a vast continent whose oil and gas reserves are expected by some analysts to see it emerge as the new global hub.”

Standard Bank (2018)

As of October 2020, according to the IMF, more than half of the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. 

In order to access that frontier, a certain environment must be cultivated. A corporate, imperialist, and authoritarian one who views people as subservient labor.

A fiscally conservative and socially liberal environment. A neoliberal environment. 

The Heritage Foundation, a long-standing conservative (Reaganism and Thatcherism) think tank in 2007 had the following to say about AFRICOM:

“AFRICOM is necessary to address the increasing importance of the region to US national interests and better equip the US in meeting the unique challenges of that region. In an increasingly globalized world, the US cannot afford to ignore Africa or relegate it to a tertiary priority. Africa is a vital source of energy and other mineral resources. Weak and failed states in the region offer fertile ground for the spread of terrorism. And the underdeveloped states in Africa are often incapable of addressing transnational health and environmental concerns that could affect the US and its allies.”

Brett Schaefer
Senior Research Fellow, International Regulatory Affairs

Greed disguised as helpful paternalism. 

According to Amnesty International, US Airstrikes in Somalia have killed and injured civilians. 

In 2020 the US has conducted 50 airstrikes in Somalia.

The US goal is to control any element that might impact the economic investment of the west, which would include minimizing the impact of groups such as al-Shabaab

Al-Shabaab a brutal militants group radicalized owing to meddling by the West.

The US claims its attacks on al-Shabaab is about the safety of African citizens, but why does it appear that Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police with a long record of abuse is of no concern. Is it because the #endSARS movement is about abolishing the police and abolishing imperialism, including the US influence, IMF, and the World Bank?

Why is there no concern by the US regarding Boko Haram, which has been kidnapping hundreds of children? Is it because they are poor children, and displacing their families might be a tactical economic advantage?

Why do the horrors of the al-Shabaab on local civilians go ignored?

While not speaking in favor of any violent organization (that would also include the United States), it is an interesting observation that the US seems fine with violence and human rights violations that steer clear of imperialist interests and targets and only terrorizes local people. 

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will start on January 1, 2021. A continent-wide free-trade pact could help to realize more than $84 billion in untapped intra-African exports, according to a new report by the African Export-Import Bank reported Bloomberg News on December 15, 2020.

The Africa-wide deal is meant to help ease trade by lowering or eliminating cross-border tariffs on the majority of goods, facilitating capital and people’s movement, promoting investment, and paving the way for a continent-wide customs union.

The World Bank on AFRICOM:

“The AfCFTA agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures.”

The World Bank involvement in your area’s economy has traditionally been great for western corporations and horrible for regular people. Its loans that are supposed to help often put communities in perpetual debt. 

An International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found that 3.4 million people have been displaced owing to World Bank projects. 

Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda will all begin a reduction in their tariffs—starting with an across reduction on 90 percent of tariff lines—leading to the elimination of tariffs on intra-African (between African countries) imports over a period of five years by the standards of the trade agreement, this pace of liberalization (relaxing) of policy will be quick in comparison to other trade agreements. This has the potential of boosting regional trade by 50 percent. 

All but one of the 55 nations recognized by the African Union (AU), chaired by Moussa Faki Mahamat —who was controversially re-elected for a second term as chair— have signed to join the area and 34 have ratified the accord. This is clearly a very different AU than the one founded by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who in early in 2011 was removed from office and then captured by National Transitional Council (NTC) forces —backed by AFRICOM, then appeared to be raped with what looked like a bayonet, and murdered on video by a group of people that NTC claims they do not know.

On September 16, 2011, the NTC gained international recognition as the legitimate government of Libya and occupied the country’s seat at the United Nations.

Then September 20, 2011, the AU officially recognized the NTC as the legitimate representative of Libya.

“It is expected that AfCFTA will allow for more diverse and sustainable economic growth, not only increasing trade between African countries, but facilitating the larger integration of the African market as a whole and, with that, greater economic stability, making investment in Africa more attractive to foreign investors.”

Mark Brady Solicitor at Appleby, a legal international law firm, founded in 1898
Speciality Banking and Finance, with a particular interest in FinTech

There is a little doubt that AFRICOM helped in giving European and North American investors of AfCFTA peace for their little white minds. 

“The opportunities provided by the AfCFTA, coupled with investment by development partners, could shift the patterns of migration from one driven by security concerns to one driven by entrepreneurial spirit, creating growth opportunities for receiving countries.”

General William Ward, former (the FIRST) Commander of the AFRICOM speaking at African Export-Import Bank.

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is the foremost pan-African multilateral financial institution devoted to financing and promoting intra- and extra-African trade. Headquarters in Cairo.

In 2019 African Export-Import Bank instituted a $1 billion adjustment facility to help AU countries accelerate the ratification of the AfCFTA.

In 2018 Nigeria one of the last holdouts on AfCFTA. The delay was partly due to the National President of the Nigeria Labour (the umbrella organization for trade unions in Nigeria) and President of the International Trade Union Confederation, Ayuba Wabba. 

“[E]xtremely dangerous and radioactive neo-liberal policy initiative being driven by the Ministry of Trade and Investment that seeks to open our seaports, airports and other businesses to unbridled foreign interference never before witnessed in the history of the country —This policy initiative, for instance, will make it possible for a foreign airline to directly do local scheduled flights without employing Nigerians.”

Wabba on AfCFTA in Nigerian Vanguard

On November 12, 2020, Nigeria signed on

While we do not want to be Afro-pessimists, AfCFTA does appear on the surface to be a neoliberal endeavor that will significantly benefit the elite in Africa while causing more economic stress on the already poor, as it has in North America with NAFTA. 

According to government statistics, real average annual wages have declined in Mexico under NAFTA, and those making the least were hurt the most, with the minimum wage falling 14 percent. Manufacturing wages in Mexico are now 40 percent lower than in China.

Public Citizen

For the AU to navigate and balance the World Bank, IMF, and investors who want African labor, natural resources, and the freedom to use all of those resources to make as much money as possible with the people’s needs will be a very tricky balancing act. 

The value of intra-African trade might be enough. Will individual countries say no to more money, and with the diversity in the region, is Mama Africa enough to hold the AU? Will it remember its values, most specifically:

  • Promote sustainable development at the economic, social, and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies.  
  • Promote cooperation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of African peoples.

 Let us hope the fair market extends to all people in Africa, rich and poor.

I suspect that AFRICOM was clearing the way for the most deadly weapon of imperialism —its banks.

Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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One thought on “The US is out of Somalia, but AFRICOM will remain a presence shaping Africa’s security policy and AfCFTA

  1. Still researching to learn about this, but found WEB Du Bois was part of the leadership of the OAU, from (1868-1963):

    And I wonder if this episode in Obama’s history won’t eventually be seen as him being the Clinton’s pawn. Even tho this may have been the case, I hope not, because he was the POTUS and needs to fully own the consequences of the murder.

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