The Rise of NATO in Africa

Source: Internationalist 360

May 29 2022

Civilian casualties of US bombing in Somalia

Anxiety about the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) toward the Russian border is one of the causes of the current war in Ukraine. But this is not the only attempt at expansion by NATO, a treaty organization created in 1949 by the United States to project its military and political power over Europe. In 2001, NATO conducted an “out of area” military operation in Afghanistan, which lasted 20 years, and in 2011, NATO—at the urging of France—bombed Libya and overthrew its government. NATO military operations in Afghanistan and Libya were the prelude to discussions of a “Global NATO,” a project to use the NATO military alliance beyond its own charter obligations from the South China Sea to the Caribbean Sea.

NATO’s war in Libya was its first major military operation in Africa, but it was not the first European military footprint on the continent. After centuries of European colonial wars in Africa, new states emerged in the aftermath of World War II to assert their sovereignty. Many of these states—from Ghana to Tanzania—refused to allow the European military forces to reenter the continent, which is why these European powers had to resort to assassinations and military coups to anoint pro-Western governments in the region. This allowed for the creation of Western military bases in Africa and gave Western firms freedom to exploit the continent’s natural resources.

Early NATO operations stayed at the edge of Africa, with the Mediterranean Sea being the major frontline. NATO set up the Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH) in Naples in 1951, and then the Allied Forces Mediterranean (AFMED) in Malta in 1952. Western governments established these military formations to garrison the Mediterranean Sea against the Soviet navy and to create platforms from where they could militarily intervene in the African continent. After the Six-Day War in 1967, NATO’s Defense Planning Committee, which was dissolved in 2010, created the Naval On-Call Force Mediterranean (NOCFORMED) to put pressure on pro-Soviet states—such as Egypt—and to defend the monarchies of northern Africa (NATO was unable to prevent the anti-imperialist coup of 1969 that overthrew the monarchy in Libya and brought Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to power; Gaddafi’s government ejected U.S. military bases from the country soon thereafter).

Conversations at NATO headquarters about “out of area” operations took place with increasing frequency after NATO joined the U.S. war on Afghanistan. A senior official at NATO told me in 2003 that the United States had “developed an appetite to use NATO” in its attempt to project power against possible adversaries. Two years later, in 2005, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, NATO began to cooperate closely with the African Union (AU). The AU, which was formed in 2002, and was the “successor” to the Organization of African Unity, struggled to build an independent security structure. The lack of a viable military force meant that the AU often turned to the West for assistance, and asked NATO to help with logistics and airlift support for its peacekeeping mission in Sudan.

Alongside NATO, the U.S. operated its military capacity through the United States European Command (EUCOM), which oversaw the country’s operations in Africa from 1952 to 2007. Thereafter, General James Jones, head of EUCOM from 2003 to 2006, formed the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2008, which was headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, because none of the 54 African nations were willing to give it a home. NATO began to operate on the African continent through AFRICOM.

Libya and NATO’s Framework for Africa

Libya after NATO bombardment

NATO’s war on Libya changed the dynamics of the relationship between the African countries and the West. The African Union was wary of Western military intervention in the region. On 10 March, 2011, the AU’s Peace and Security Council set up the High-Level ad hoc Committee on Libya. The members of this committee included then-AU Chairperson Dr. Jean Ping and the heads of state of five African nations—former President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Republic of Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso, Mali’s former President Amadou Toumani Touré, former President of South Africa Jacob Zuma and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni—who were supposed to fly into Tripoli, Libya, and negotiate between the two sides of the Libyan civil war soon after the committee’s formation. The United Nations Security Council, however, prevented this mission from entering the country.

At a meeting between the High-Level ad hoc Committee on Libya and the United Nations in June 2011, Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations during that time, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, said, “It is unwise for certain players to be intoxicated with technological superiority and begin to think they alone can alter the course of human history toward freedom for the whole of mankind. Certainly, no constellation of states should think that they can recreate hegemony over Africa.” But this is precisely what the NATO states began to imagine.

Chaos in Libya set in motion a series of catastrophic conflicts in Mali, southern Algeria and parts of Niger. The French military intervention in Mali in 2013 was followed by the creation of the G5 Sahel, a political platform of the five Sahel states—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger—and a military alliance between them. In May 2014, NATO opened a liaison office at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. At NATO’s Wales Summit in September 2014, the alliance partners considered the problems in the Sahel that entered the alliance’s Readiness Action Plan, which served as “[the] driver of NATO’s military adaptation to the changed and evolving security environment.” In December 2014, NATO foreign ministers reviewed the plan’s implementation, and focused on the “threats emanating from our southern neighborhood, the Middle East, and North Africa” and established a framework to meet the threats and challenges being faced by the South, according to a report by the former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Michael R. Turner. Two years later, at NATO’s Warsaw Summit in 2016, NATO leaders decided to increase their cooperation with the African Union. They “[welcomed] the robust military commitment of Allies in the Sahel-Sahara region.” To deepen this commitment, NATO set up an African Standby Force and began the process of training officers in African military forces.

Meanwhile, the recent decision to eject the French military is rooted in a general sensibility growing in the continent against Western military aggression. No wonder then that many of the larger African countries refused to follow Washington’s position on the war on Ukraine, with half the countries either abstaining or voting against the UN resolution to condemn Russia (this includes countries such as Algeria, South Africa, Angola and Ethiopia). It is telling that South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said that his country “is committed to advancing the human rights and fundamental freedoms not only of our own people but for the peoples of Palestine, Western Sahara, Afghanistan, Syria and across Africa and the world.”

The ignominy of Western—and NATO’s—follies, including arms deals with Morocco to deliver Western Sahara to the kingdom and diplomatic backing for Israel as it continues its apartheid treatment of Palestinians, bring into sharp contrast Western outrage at the events taking place in Ukraine. Evidence of this hypocrisy serves as a warning while reading the benevolent language used by the West when it comes to NATO’s expansion into Africa.


This article was produced by Globetrotter. Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest book is Washington Bullets, with an introduction by Evo Morales Ayma.

Sudanese Masses Pressure Military Regime to Relinquish Power

Source: borkena.com

December 29 2021

Sudan People demonstrate for democratic rule. December 25,2021 ( Photo : AA)

Since the October 25 coup by the military in the oil-rich state of Sudan, the democratic movement has held protests almost on a daily basis.

Interim Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, a technocrat with extensive ties to international finance capital, was overthrown during the late October putsch only to be reinstalled in a secret agreement with the Transitional Military Council (TMC) led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan which excluded the main opposition parties and mass formations which have guided the revolutionary movement since December of 2018.

Over the last three years, former longtime President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, was overthrown in an April 2019 coup led by the TMC which was designed to thwart a people’s takeover which would have inevitably involved a vanguard role for the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC). The FFC grew out of an alliance with the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA), the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, along with dozens of other opposition forces from various political spectrums including the Communist Party (SCP). 

However, the massacre of demonstrators during June 2019 prompted a more engaged intervention by the African Union (AU) based in neighboring Ethiopia, where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sought to mediate the conflict. In several months the Sovereign Council was created ostensibly designed as a transitional body that within three years would result in a multi-party election creating a parliament and presidency through direct selection by the electorate.

However, the entire process has been derailed largely at the aegis of imperialist forces seeking to dominate the current and future situation inside the country. Under the previous administration of President Donald J. Trump, Prime Minister Hamdok was compelled to acknowledge the so-called “Abraham Accord” which is designed to expand the diplomatic recognition of the state of Israel in Africa and West Asia while undermining international solidarity with the Palestinian people. This measure has not been fully implemented diplomatically although there are reports of at least two exchanges of delegations between Khartoum and Tel Aviv.

These maneuvers by Washington and its allies have not pacified the FFC and other popular forces who have remained in the streets. Even the armed opposition groupings from the Darfur region of Sudan and the border areas of the now partitioned Republic of South Sudan, who signed on to the November 21 post-coup arrangements, are still within a highly precarious situation in their relationship with the military leadership. 

The latest round of demonstrations could only be suppressed by the deployment of the police, paramilitary units and the army. At a December 24 public rally called by the FFC, unnamed individuals set off teargas in the crowd in the effort to disrupt the meeting.

December 25 was marked by renewed mass demonstrations demanding the immediate resignation of Hamdok and the military from the reigns of state power. Actions were held in the three major cities surrounding the capital of Khartoum, Khartoum North and the twin-city of Omdurman. Additional protests extended to the east of the country around Port Sudan where organizations have put forward their own unique set of demands for the military regime.

Sudan Tribune reported on the level of repression carried out by the security forces saying: “The Sudanese government closed main streets leading to the Republican Place in Khartoum, shut down internet services, and deployed troops on the bridges linking the three towns of the capital Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman. Five days after the last protests of December 19, the demonstrators again made their target the presidential palace which is the premises of the military-dominated Sovereign Council. In spite of the massive deployment of joint security forces including the police, the army and the Rapid Support Forces, the protesters marched towards the Palace chanting slogans to denounce the coup d’etat of Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.” (https://sudantribune.com/article253411/)

What has been notable in the demonstrations for democratic transformation since 2018 is the high level of participation of women in the revolutionary movement. Many have moved to the front of the actions challenging the discrimination and marginalization prevalent in Sudanese society. These women have been met with harsh repression where sexual assault has been utilized has a means to driving women off the streets. These attempts to suppress women through brutal attacks have not worked and instead has prompted manifestations by women exposing the crimes being committed by the military and the entire security apparatus.

The same above-mentioned report by Sudan Tribune emphasizes: “[W]omen participated in Saturday’s (Dec. 25) protest to show they were not intimated by the sexual violence and rape by the security forces on 19 December. The police used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the protests in the streets near the Republican Palace. Nonetheless, they failed to stop the demonstrators. The security authorities in Khartoum on Friday (Dec. 24) announced the closure of the bridges and streets leading to the sovereign and strategic sites…. ‘The people are stronger, and it is impossible to go back,’ they also chanted to voice their determination to continue the protests that started immediately after the first hours of the coup on October 25.”

Sudan and Regional Stability in the Horn of Africa

Meanwhile in neighboring Ethiopia, the U.S. is attempting to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The State Department and corporate media outlets based in the West have sought to create an atmosphere where the administration in Addis Ababa is considered brutal and illegitimate. 

In line with this approach by Washington, the Sudanese military junta has sided with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels fighting the elected government in Addis Ababa and other centers of authority throughout the Horn of Africa state. With the TPLF rebels in retreat, returning to their bases in the Tigray province by clearing out areas within the Afar and Amhara regions of the country, the Sudanese military regime is being placed in an even more unstable position. 

Funding from the U.S., the Gulf Monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates along with Tel Aviv is contingent upon Gen. al-Burhan’s compliance with the imperatives of western imperialism. The mass democratic movement in Sudan, if it is to seize power, will inevitably be forced to shift the overall foreign policy of the country. Absent of fundamental changes in domestic and foreign policies, the nation of Sudan will remain subject to the manipulation by the capitalist centers of the West and their surrogates throughout Africa and West Asia.

During mid-to-late December, numerous news articles have appeared suggesting that the reinstalled interim Prime Minister Hamdok is threatening to resign from his tenuous post as head of the second iteration of the Sovereign Council. If Hamdok leaves, which the U.S., UN and the Gulf Monarchies do not want to happen, the military will be weakened even further politically. The lack of a political underpinning for the TMC is causing the armed forces to utilize heightened levels of repression against the democratic movement.

Sudan and the International Situation

With the ascendancy of the current U.S. President Joe Biden in January 2021, the foreign policy of the State Department and the Pentagon has not shifted in its substance towards the African continent. The Trump administration sought to prop up the military regime in Sudan and the same approach continues under Biden.

As Trump was hostile towards the present government in Ethiopia, so is the Biden administration. The U.S. fears a genuinely revolutionary democratic Africa where the foreign policy of the post-independence states is based upon the interests of the majority of workers, farmers, youth and other popular strata within these developing countries. 

After two decades of direct occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. was forced to leave in humiliating defeat during August 2021. The military adventures in the West Asian and African states of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen are facing a similar fate as to the outcome of Afghanistan in Central Asia. Trillions in U.S. currency has been spent on these occupations and proxy wars while the national infrastructure of the urban, suburban and rural areas is in rapid decline.

Of course, the failure of imperialist war is paid for by the workers and oppressed in the U.S. struggling against rising impoverishment, racist bigotry, national oppression, gender discrimination, environmental degradation, among other social ills. Consequently, the antiwar and anti-imperialist struggle is essential in the efforts to overturn capitalist exploitation and national oppression.   

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Cuba: Return of fallen internationalists commemorated

Source: Granma

Thirty-two years have passed, but Cuba has not forgotten. On December 7, 1989, the remains of 2,289 combatants who gave their lives on internationalist missions in Africa were returned to the arms of the homeland

Author: Pedro Ríoseco | internet@granma.cu

december 7, 2021 11:12:53

All the country’s cities received the remains of their prodigal sons, and honored to them in Pantheons of the Fallen established in all municipalities. Photo: Liborio Noval

Thirty-two years have passed, but Cuba has not forgotten. On December 7, 1989, the remains of 2,289 combatants who gave their lives on internationalist missions in Africa were returned to the arms of the homeland, in an effort entitled Operation Tribute.
All the country’s cities received the remains of their prodigal sons, and honored to them in Pantheons of the Fallen established in all municipalities.
General Antonio Maceo’s mausoleum, in El Cacahual, hosted the symbolic national ceremony with the remains of 16 internationalists, one from each provinces and the Isle of Youth special municipality, on the date when the Titan and his faithful assistant Panchito Gomez Toro fell in battle against the Spanish colonialists.
“These men and women, to whom we give an honorable burial today, in the warm land where they were born, died for the most sacred values, they died fighting against colonialism and neocolonialism, racism and apartheid, plundering and exploitation of the peoples of the Third World, for independence and sovereignty, for the right to wellbeing and development of all peoples, for socialism, for internationalism, for the revolutionary and dignified homeland that Cuba is today,” said Fidel at that time, reaffirming the commitment follow their example.
Of these internationalists, 2,085 were participating in military missions in the defense of the nascent independence of the People’s Republic of Angola, and 204 took on civilian tasks, as part of the 377,033 Cuban volunteers who fought in that country during the 15 and a half years of Operation Carlota.
The Cuban government always informed families of the death of each internationalist (in combat, due to accidents or illness), but it was impossible, in the middle of the war, to repatriate their corpses and bury them in their hometowns. But the Revolution did not forget any of its sons and daughters, and to fulfill that humanitarian commitment, Operation Tribute was organized.
As Army General Raul Castro Ruz said on December 12, 1976, “From Angola we will take with us only the intimate friendship that unites us to that heroic nation, the gratitude of its people and the mortal remains of our dear brothers and sisters who fell in the line of duty.” And so it was.

#NoMore U.S. in Africa: BAP Statement to Nov. 21st Rallies for Ethiopia

Black Alliance for Peace

November 21 2021

We in the Black Alliance for Peace stand in uncompromising opposition to the U.S.-led imperialist aggression against Ethiopia and by extension against her neighboring countries Eritrea, Somalia, and beyond. U.S. policy against Ethiopia cannot be understood without putting it within the broader context of U.S. imperialism’s geostrategic interest in the Horn of Africa in particular, and the whole of Africa in general. 

It is not lost on the Black radicals and revolutionary Pan-Africanists that the U.S. settler colonialist state is an extension of Western Europe and as such it is motivated by a white supremacist, imperialist worldview. 

In spite of its benevolent rhetoric, the U.S.’ unwavering commitment to full spectrum dominance reveals the only true intentions it has for Ethiopia and for our homeland, Africa. Since the 1950s African movements against colonialism and for continental unity, have been sabotaged by U.S. administrations of both parties. Leaders such as Patrice Lumumba of Congo were assassinated by the CIA, and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was overthrown in a CIA orchestrated coup. Ten years  ago, the U.S. led the NATO bombing of Libya  which decimated the country, killing not only the leader Muammar Gaddafi but also an untold number of Libyans. This was the first operation of its U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, that has since been responsible for thoroughly militarizing the continent of Africa, including waging an unmitigated drone war in Somalia.

The relative instability in Ethiopia can only be sustained through U.S. support. The empty rhetoric from officials like U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken represents the propaganda aspect of the hybrid war waged against Ethiopia.

It is important that we see the sanctions, media misinformation, and arrogant ultimatums by U.S. imperialism for what they are; the desperate machinations of a global power in crisis. 

Western imperialism is being confronted by people-centered expressions of resistance in Africa and globally.

This week a French military convoy from Ivory Coast transiting across Burkina Faso towards Niger (a source of uranium for France) was stopped by 10,000 demonstrators demanding that the French forces evacuate from the region. The convoy had already been stopped on November 17th in the Burkina Faso city of Bobo Dioulasso and on the 18th in the capital of Ouagadougou. The imperialist press won’t cover this resistance.

Now expressions of solidarity from around the world are standing up for the Horn of Africa. 

While the Black Alliance for Peace is committed to peace, we understand there can be no peace without justice, and we will stand in solidarity with all peoples (and nations) who strive to liberate themselves from all forms of neocolonial oppression. 

BAP takes a resolute anti-colonial, anti-imperialist position that links the international role of the U.S. empire to the domestic war against poor people and working-class Black people within the United States.

We unequivocally support and uplift mutual cooperation, solidarity, and peace among all parties and people in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the broader Horn of Africa region. We support African-led, localized conflict resolution that is not tied to advancing imperialism, neo-colonialism or any other nefarious Western agendas.

We must all transform our mobilizations into organized protracted struggle that forges a transcontinental cooperation that will save ourselves from the greatest threat to peace and stability on the planet, the U.S. government. 

The U.S.-EU-NATO axis of domination will ultimately find its deathbed in Africa at the hands of the Pan-African masses.

U.S. out of Africa!

Shut down AFRICOM!

No compromise!

No retreat!

Banner photo: Refugees, who arrived recently from Ethiopia, setting up their shelter in Sudan. (UNFPA/Sufian Abdul-Mouty)

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Cuban Medical Mission renews its presence in Ghana

Source: Cubaminrex / Embacuba Ghana

July 12 2021

The change in the leading of the Cuban Medical Mission in Ghana took place at the Embassy of Cuba in Accra with the presence of the Ambassador Pedro Luis Despaigne González and Dr. Hafez Adam Taher, Head of External Health Cooperation, Ghana Ministry of Health.

The document was signed by Dr. Ana Lubín García, outgoing Head of the Cuban Medical Mission in the country and Dr. Mercedes Suárez Orama, incoming Head, with the presence of incoming and outgoing members of the Cuban Medical Brigade (CMB), as well as member of the staff of the Cuban Diplomatic Mission.

The Cuban Ambassador reviewed the main milestones of the meritorious work carried out in Ghana by the CMB that officially concluded its medical work this day, highlighted the rigor in the fulfillment of its functions by the outgoing Head of the Cuban Medical Mission, highlighted the support provided by the Ghanaian health authorities to the Cuban doctors for the fulfillment of their functions and urged the new doctors to keep up the work carried out by their predecessors.

The members of the CMB expressed their commitment to keep the name of Cuba in a place of honor. (Cubaminrex / Embacuba Ghana)

Several injured and 77 detained as police attack protest rally in Sudan

Source: People’s Dispatch

Augist 19 2020

A rally on the anniversary of the ratification of the Constitutional Declaration in Sudan was attacked by the police on Monday. Protesters asked the govt. to set up the legislative council and and solve the economic crisis.

Sudan protests

Several protesters were injured and at least 77 protesters were detained in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on August 17, Monday, after police fired tear gas and attacked a protest rally. The protesters had reached the offices of cabinet ministers to submit a memorandum of demands to prime minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Called the ‘march of millions’, the rally had been organized on the first anniversary of the ratification of the Constitutional Declaration which paved the way for the formation of the transitional government in Sudan. The rally started at different assembly points in Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman, and converged near the cabinet ministers’ offices.

The aim of the protest was to hand over a memorandum to the prime minister, calling on the transitional government to fulfill its mandate, as presented to it by the protest movement which had brought it to power last year after ousting long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir. Key demands included the formation of the legislative council and a solution to the financial crisis. However, the protesters were met with violence

Related: The Coup in Mali and how NATO destabilized the Sahel

The coordinating body of the resistance committees said in a statement that it was “shameful and unacceptable” that Hamdok “chose to hide behind the curtain” and “sent a representative to meet the masses”. When the protesters rejected this offer and demanded to see the prime minister, the police fired tear gas and used “excessive force to confront them”.

Many of the injured had to be carried to hospitals in ambulances. Lawyers affiliated to the protest movement who rushed to police stations to secure the release of protesters were also allegedly attacked by the police.

The coordinating body of the resistance committee called “on the revolutionaries.. to close streets and burn tires in response to the government’s shameful and humiliating treatment, and we also announce to the Sudanese people that the open mobilization and escalation will continue in the coming days in various forms and methods.”

It is reported that numerous clashes between the security forces and protesters occurred until late in the evening. Police continued to attack the protesters even after they had been dispersed from around the cabinet offices and were staging road blockades.

The organization of ‘Families of the martyrs of the glorious Sudanese revolution 2018’ also condemned the police action. It said in a statement that the “blood of martyrs and wounded”, who had sacrificed in the struggle against the dictatorship, was still fresh in the memory of the Sudanese people.

Key demands

One of the key demands articulated in the memorandum is the immediate formation of the legislative council. This body was to be formed by November 2019. This body will be crucial to counter the influence of the military in the other two bodies already set up as part of the transitional government – the Sovereignty Council and the cabinet. The Sudanese military was deeply entrenched in the former regime, and has been accused of gross human rights violations and crimes.

The Sovereignty Council, the highest body within the transitional government, has equal representation from the military and the civil society, but is headed by military generals. The other body, the cabinet or the council of ministers, has the ministers of defense and internal security appointed by the military.

Another crucial demand of the protesters is to bring the finances of the armed forces under the control of the finance ministry. Currently, the ministry has no control over the massive annual budgets allotted to the armed forces.

Protesters have also called for holding a conference to chart a way forward to resolve the severe economic crisis, which the transitional government has failed to solve. They are also demanding concrete measures to speed up the peace process with the armed rebel groups in the country, including the dissolution of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The RSF is a militia cultivated by the army under Bashir’s rule, which was allegedly instrumental in committing the genocide in Sudan. It is headed by the current vice-president of the Sovereignty Council, General Homamad Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemeti, and continues to sow terror in the largely non-Arab communities in the civil-war affected regions.

Monday’s protest rally was organized by the resistance committees which were the backbone of the coordinated uprising that led to Bashir’s removal in December 2018. The committees had organized at the neighborhood level to build a mass protest movement which continued even after his ouster, holding out against the military junta which had assumed power. The junta was finally forced to make way for the formation of a civilian-majority government after a massacre at the hands of the RSF.

The government that was eventually formed was the result of a compromise between the junta and the Declaration of Freedom and Change forces (DFCF) – a coalition of political parties which came to represent the protest movement.

Abdalla Hamdok was chosen for the position of prime minister by the DFCF. As the protest movement had installed him in power, protesters on Monday demanded that he personally receive their memorandum of demands.

August 23, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Source: Cuba – Network in Defense of Humanity

August 21 2020

by Pedro de la Hoz

Before the Europeans arrived in America, Portuguese seafarers snatched the first Africans from their homelands to be sold and exploited in the Iberian Peninsula. Documentary evidence indicates a date: 1444. In 1510, 18 years after the first voyage of Columbus, the monarch Fernando de Castilla authorized the transfer of consignments of Africans to Hispaniola, in order to leave their lives in the mineral veins of the island, like the aborigines. Cuba in 1886 and Brazil in 1888 were the last to abolish slavery in this part of the world.

Between one and the other chronological marks, four centuries of infamy, forced uprooting, exploitation without limits, premature deaths, family fractures, twisted destinies, cultural alienation and massive violation of the most elementary human rights run through history.

Conservative estimates place at about 12 million enslaved Africans who arrived on American soil. To the statistics must be added the children of the victims of trafficking born here, also enslaved, and the numbers of those who died during the journeys.

To the infamy described should be added the sequel to horror, racism as an ideological construction that justified African exploitation and, above all, the immanent and systemic nature of the exploitative process.

In the memory of the Cuban people that trace is not forgotten. Therefore, the wake-up call on the eve of August 23, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, must transcend formality and be projected as an instance for reflection and understanding of what the African legacy means in the world. historical and current fabric of the nation.

The Haitian Revolution

The day, proclaimed by UNESCO, evokes the massive uprising of slaves in the French colony of Saint Domingue, at dawn on August 23, 1791, which began the Haitian revolution, and seeks not only to highlight the indissoluble link between freedom , social justice and defense of human dignity, but also contribute essential historical background to the fight against all forms of oppression and racism that persist on a global scale today.

For years, Cuba has developed the La Ruta del Esclavo program with appreciable results, supported by the coordinated actions of academic and cultural institutions that respond to the educational and cultural policy derived from the revolutionary transformations that have taken place among us for more than half a century. .

Publications, scientific events, promotional actions of social impact in festivals and artistic programs have made possible advances in the study of trafficking and slavery, the heritage values ​​related to the subject and the vindication of expressions of African origin integrated into our identity.

There are conditions for all of this to be further strengthened with the implementation of the National Program to Fight Racism and Racial Discrimination, approved by the Council of Ministers, led by the President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, and in the that more than thirty state agencies and socialist civil society organizations are involved.

This will, of course, be a way of honoring a concept expressed by Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro, when on December 22, 1975, at the closing of the First Party Congress, and publicizing Operation Carlota, of combative solidarity with Angola, He said: “We are not only a Latin American country, but we are also a Latin African country.”

source Granma

translation CubaNews

Burundi demands $43bn reparations for colonialism

Source: Africadiplomatic.com

Burundi wishes Belgium and Germany to pay $43 billion in reparations for harm done during decades of colonial rule.

The move follows similar calls for compensation by the Democratic Republic of Congo after Belgian King Philippe in June offered his “deepest regrets” over his nation’s colonial past in the Congo

Burundi also intends to recuperate from Belgium and Germany the archival material and objects expropriated between 1899 and 1962, Senate President Reverien Ndikuriyo told senators in the capital, Gitega, on Thursday, August 13. In 2018, the Senate appointed a panel including historians and anthropologists to investigate the impact of colonialism rule on the nation.

Much of Burundi’s present-day political challenges can be traced back to a decree by Belgian King Albert I to classify the population along three ethnic groups, according to Aloys Batungwanayo, a historian and doctoral researcher at the Lausanne University.

“It is this decree that has led to conflicts in Burundi and the region because some of the population was excluded from the ruling class because of the decree,” Batungwanayo said in the commercial hub Bujumbura, Bloomberg reports.

The Black Lives Matter movement has stirrred the debate about racism in the West, and in the sub-Saharan Africa much of the experts has focused on the legacy of colonialism.

The demands of reparations conicided with the request of the Council of Ministers of the East Africa Comminity (EAC) to Burundi to disburse the outstanding budgetary contributions ($6.5 million) by September 15, to enable the EAC organs and Institutions discharge their mandate.

The East Africa Community’s 41st Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers was held on August 4, under the chairmanship of Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Vincent Biruta. “The Secretariat as well as the other organs and institutions are already experiencing liquidity challenges,” said Mr Biruta in the report. “A number of providers of goods and services need to be paid. Some activities are being put on hold until the partner states disburse the outstanding contribution.”

Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World

Source:  UNIA-aclgovernment.com

August 13, 2020

100th Anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World

 

marcus garvey unia

Preamble

Be It Resolved That the Negro people of the world, through their chosen representatives in convention assembled in Liberty Hall, in the City of New York and United States of America, from August 1 to August 31, in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and twenty, protest against the wrongs and injustices they are suffering at the hands of their white brethren, and state what they deem their fair and just rights, as well as the treatment they propose to demand of all men in the future.

We complain:

  1. That nowhere in the world, with few exceptions, are Black men accorded equal treatment with white men, although in the same situation and circumstances, but, on the contrary, are discriminated against and denied the common rights due to human beings for no other reason than their race and color. We are not willingly accepted as guests in the public hotels and inns of the world for no other reason than our race and color.
  2. In certain parts of the United States of America our race is denied the right of public trial accorded to other races when accused of crime, but are lynched and burned by mobs, and such brutal and inhuman treatment is even practiced upon our women.
  3. That European nations have parceled out among them and taken possession of nearly all of the continent of Africa, and the natives are compelled to surrender their lands to aliens and are treated in most instances like slaves.
  4. In the southern portion of the United States of America, although citizens under the Federal Constitution, and in some States almost equal to the whites in population and are qualified land owners and taxpayers, we are, nevertheless, denied all voice in the making and administration of the laws and are taxed without representation by the State governments, and at the same time compelled to do military service in defense of the country.
  5. On the public conveyances and common carriers in the southern portion of the United States we are Jim-crowed and compelled to accept separate and inferior accommodations and made to pay the same fare charged for first-class accommodations, and our families are often humiliated and insulted by drunken white men who habitually pass through the Jim-crow cars going to the smoking car.
  6. The physicians of our race are denied the right to attend their patients while in the public hospitals of the cities and States where they reside in certain parts of the United States. Our children are forced to attend inferior separate schools for shorter terms than white children and the public school funds are unequally divided between the white and colored schools.
  7. We are discriminated against and denied an equal chance to earn wages for the support of our families, and in many instances are refused admission into labor unions and nearly everywhere are paid smaller wages than white men.
  8. In the Civil Service and departmental offices we are everywhere discriminated against and made to feel that to be a black man in Europe, America and the West Indies is equivalent to being an outcast and a leper among the races of men, no matter what the character attainments of the black men may be.
  9. In the British and other West Indian islands and colonies Negroes are secretly and cunningly discriminated against and denied those fuller rights of government to which white citizens are appointed, nominated and elected.
  10. That our people in those parts are forced to work for lower wages than the average standard of white men and are kept in conditions repugnant to good civilized tastes and customs.
  11. That the many acts of injustices against members of our race before the courts of law in the respective islands and colonies are of such nature as to create disgust and disrespect for the white man’s sense of justice.
  12. Against all such inhuman, unchristian and uncivilized treatment we here and now emphatically protest, and invoke the condemnation of all mankind. In order to encourage our race all over the world and to stimulate it to overcome the handicaps and difficulties surrounding it, and to push forward to a higher and grander destiny, we demand and insist on the following Declaration of Rights:  Be it known to all men that whereas all men are created equal and entitled to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and because of this we, the duly elected representatives of the Negro peoples of the world, invoking the aid of the just and Almighty God, do declare all men, women and children of our blood throughout the world free denizens, and do claim them as free citizens of Africa, the Motherland of all Negroes  2. That we believe in the supreme authority of our race in all things racial; that all things are created and given to man as a common possession; that there should be an equitable distribution and apportionment of all such things, and in consideration of the fact that as a race we are now deprived of those things that are morally and legally ours, we believed it right that all such things should be acquired and held by whatsoever means possible.  3. That we believe the Negro, like any other race, should be governed by the ethics of civilization, and therefore should not be deprived of any of those rights or privileges common to other human beings.  4. We declare that Negroes, wheresoever they form a community among themselves should be given the right to elect their own representatives to represent them in Legislatures, courts of law, or such institutions as may exercise control over that particular community.  5. We assert that the Negro is entitled to even-handed justice before all courts of law and equity in whatever country he may be found, and when this is denied him on account of his race or color such denial is an insult to the race as a whole and should be resented by the entire body of Negroes.
  13. We declare it unfair and prejudicial to the rights of Negroes in communities where they exist in considerable numbers to be tried by a judge and jury composed entirely of an alien race, but in all such cases members of our race are entitled to representation on the jury.
  14. We believe that any law or practice that tends to deprive any African of his land or the privileges of free citizenship within his country is unjust and immoral, and no native should respect any such law or practice.
  15. We declare taxation without representation unjust and tyrannous, and there should be no obligation on the part of the Negro to obey the levy of a tax by any law-making body from which he is excluded and denied representation on account of his race and color.
  16. We believe that any law especially directed against the Negro to his detriment and singling him out because of his race or color is unfair and immoral, and should not be respected.
  17. We believe all men entitled to common human respect and that our race should in no way tolerate any insults that may be interpreted to mean disrespect to our race or color.
  18. We deprecate the use of the term “nigger” as applied to Negroes, and demand that the word “Negro” be written with a capital “N.”
  19. We believe that the Negro should adopt every means to protect himself against barbarous practices inflicted upon him because of color.
  20. We believe in the freedom of Africa for the Negro people of the world, and by the principle of Europe for the Europeans and Asia for the Asiatics, we also demand Africa for the Africans at home and abroad.
  21. We believe in the inherent right of the Negro to possess himself of Africa and that his possession of same shall not be regarded as an infringement of any claim or purchase made by any race or nation.
  22. We strongly condemn the cupidity of those nations of the world who, by open aggression or secret schemes, have seized the territories and inexhaustible natural wealth of Africa, and we place on record our most solemn determination to reclaim the treasures and possession of the vast continent of our forefathers.
  23. We believe all men should live in peace one with the other, but when races and nations provoke the ire of other races and nations by attempting to infringe upon their rights[,] war becomes inevitable, and the attempt in any way to free one’s self or protect one’s rights or heritage becomes justifiable.
  24. Whereas the lynching, by burning, hanging or any other means, of human beings is a barbarous practice and a shame and disgrace to civilization, we therefore declare any country guilty of such atrocities outside the pale of civilization.
  25. We protest against the atrocious crime of whipping, flogging and overworking of the native tribes of Africa and Negroes everywhere. These are methods that should be abolished and all means should be taken to prevent a continuance of such brutal practices.
  26. We protest against the atrocious practice of shaving the heads of Africans, especially of African women or individuals of Negro blood, when placed in prison as a punishment for crime by an alien race.
  27. We protest against segregated districts, separate public conveyances, industrial discrimination, lynchings and limitations of political privileges of any Negro citizen in any part of the world on account of race, color or creed, and will exert our full influence and power against all such.
  28. We protest against any punishment inflicted upon a Negro with severity, as against lighter punishment inflicted upon another of an alien race for like offense, as an act of prejudice and injustice, and should be resented by the entire race.
  29. We protest against the system of education in any country where Negroes are denied the same privileges and advantages as other races.
  30. We declare it inhuman and unfair to boycott Negroes from industries and labor in any part of the world.
  31. We believe in the doctrine of the freedom of the press, and we therefore emphatically protest against the suppression of Negro newspapers and periodicals in various parts of the world, and call upon Negroes everywhere to employ all available means to prevent such suppression.
  32. We further demand free speech universally for all men.
  33. We hereby protest against the publication of scandalous and inflammatory articles by an alien press tending to create racial strife and the exhibition of picture films showing the Negro as a cannibal.
  34. We believe in the self-determination of all peoples.
  35. We declare for the freedom of religious worship.
  36. With the help of Almighty God we declare ourselves the sworn protectors of the honor and virtue of our women and children, and pledge our lives for their protection and defense everywhere and under all circumstances from wrongs and outrages.
  37. We demand the right of an unlimited and unprejudiced education for ourselves and our posterity forever.
  38. We declare that the teaching in any school by alien teachers to our boys and girls, that the alien race is superior to the Negro race, is an insult to the Negro people of the world.
  39. Where Negroes form a part of the citizenry of any country, and pass the civil service examination of such country, we declare them entitled to the same consideration as other citizens as to appointments in such civil service.
  40. We vigorously protest against the increasingly unfair and unjust treatment accorded Negro travelers on land and sea by the agents and employee of railroad and steamship companies, and insist that for equal fare we receive equal privileges with travelers of other races.
  41. We declare it unjust for any country, state or nation to enact laws tending to hinder and obstruct the free immigration of Negroes on account of their race and color.
  42. That the right of the Negro to travel unmolested throughout the world be not abridged by any person or persons, and all Negroes are called upon to give aid to a fellow Negro when thus molested.
  43. We declare that all Negroes are entitled to the same right to travel over the world as other men.
  44. We hereby demand that the governments of the world recognize our leader and his representatives chosen by the race to look after the welfare of our people under such governments.
  45. We demand complete control of our social institutions without interference by any alien race or races.
  46. That the colors, Red, Black and Green, be the colors of the Negro race.
  47. Resolved That the anthem “Ethiopia, Thou Land of Our Fathers etc.,” shall be the anthem of the Negro race. . . .
  48. We believe that any limited liberty which deprives one of the complete rights and prerogatives of full citizenship is but a modified form of slavery.
  49. We declare it an injustice to our people and a serious Impediment to the health of the race to deny to competent licensed Negro physicians the right to practice in the public hospitals of the communities in which they reside, for no other reason than their race and color.
  50. We call upon the various government[s] of the world to accept and acknowledge Negro representatives who shall be sent to the said governments to represent the general welfare of the Negro peoples of the world.
  51. We deplore and protest against the practice of confining juvenile prisoners in prisons with adults, and we recommend that such youthful prisoners be taught gainful trades under humane supervision.
  52. Be it further resolved, That we as a race of people declare the League of Nations null and void as far as the Negro is concerned, in that it seeks to deprive Negroes of their liberty.
  53. We demand of all men to do unto us as we would do unto them, in the name of justice; and we cheerfully accord to all men all the rights we claim herein for ourselves.
  54. We declare that no Negro shall engage himself in battle for an alien race without first obtaining the consent of the leader of the Negro people of the world, except in a matter of national self-defense.
  55. We protest against the practice of drafting Negroes and sending them to war with alien forces without proper training, and demand in all cases that Negro soldiers be given the same training as the aliens.
  56. We demand that instructions given Negro children in schools include the subject of “Negro History,” to their benefit.
  57. We demand a free and unfettered commercial intercourse with all the Negro people of the world.
  58. We declare for the absolute freedom of the seas for all peoples.
  59. We demand that our duly accredited representatives be given proper recognition in all leagues, conferences, conventions or courts of international arbitration wherever human rights are discussed.
  60. We proclaim the 31st day of August of each year to be an international holiday to be observed by all Negroes.
  61. We want all men to know that we shall maintain and contend for the freedom and equality of every man, woman and child of our race, with our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. These rights we believe to be justly ours and proper for the protection of the Negro race at large, and because of this belief we, on behalf of the four hundred million Negroes of the world, do pledge herein the sacred blood of the race in defense, and we hereby subscribe our names as a guarantee of the truthfulness and faithfulness hereof, in the presence of Almighty God, on this 13th day of August, in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and twenty.

Marcus Garvey, James D. Brooks, James W. H. Eason, Henrietta Vinton Davis, Lionel Winston Greenidge, Adrion Fitzroy Johnson, Rudolph Ethelbert Brissaac Smith, Charles Augustus Petioni, Thomas H. N. Simon, Richard Hilton Tobitt, George Alexander NcGuire, Peter Edward Baston, Reynold R. Felix, Harry Walters Kirby, Sarah Branch, Marie Barrier Houston, George L. O’Brien, F.O. Ogilvie, Arden A. Bryan, Benjamin Dyett, Marie Duchaterlier, John Phillip Hodge, Theophilus H. Saunders, Wilford H. Smith, Gabriel E. Stewart, Arnold Josiah Ford, Lee Crawford, William McCartney, Adina Clem. James, William Musgrave La Motte, John Sydney de Bourg, Arnold S. Cunning, Vernal J. Williams, Frances Wilcome Ellegor, J. Frederick Selkridge, Innis Abel Horsford, Cyril A. Crichlow, Samuel McIntyre, John Thomas Wilkins, Mary Thurston, John G. Befue, William Ware, J. A. Lewis, O. C. Thurston, Venture R. Hamilton, R.H. Hodge, Edward Alfred Taylor, Ellen Wilson, G.W. Wilson, Richard Edward Riley, Nellie Grant Whiting, G. W. Washington, Maldena Miller, Gertrude Davis, James D. Williams, Emily Christmas Kinch, D. D. Lewis, Nettie Clayton, Partheria Hills, Janie Jenkins, John C. Simons, Alphonso A. Jones, Allen Hobbs, Reynold Fitzgerald Austin, James Benjamin Yearwood, Frank O. Raines, Shedrick Williams, John Edward Ivey, Frederick August Toote, Philip Hemmings, F. F. Smith, E. J. Jones, Joseph Josiah Cranston, Frederick Samuel Ricketts, Dugald Augustus Wade, E. E Nelom, Florida Jenkins, Napoleon J. Francis, Joseph D Gibson, J. P. Jasper, J. W. Montgomery, David Benjamin, J. Gordon, Harry E. Ford, Carrie M. Ashford, Andrew N. Willis, Lucy Sands, Louise Woodson, George D. Creese, W. A. Wallace, Thomas E. Bagley, James Young, Prince Alfred McConney, John E. Hudson, William Ines, Harry R. Watkins, C.L. Halton, J. T. Bailey, Ira Joseph Touissant Wright, T. H. Golden, Abraham Benjamin Thomas, Richard C. Noble, Walter Green, C. S. Bourne, G. F. Bennett, B. D. Levy, Mary E. Johnson, Lionel Antonio Francis, Carl Roper, E. R. Donawa, Philip Van Putten, I. Brathwaite, Jesse W. Luck, Oliver kaye, J. W. Hudspeth, C. B. Lovell, William C. Matthews, A. Williams, Ratford E. M. Jack, H. Vinton Plummer, Randolph Phillips, A. I. Bailey, duly elected representatives of the Negro people of the world.

Inside the Secret World of US Commandos in Africa

Source:  International 360
August 11 2020

Nick Turse, Sam Mednick in Ouagadougou and Amanda Sperber in Nairobi
https://gdb.voanews.com/1BA8FFE9-7642-4FD0-8E99-5FF038E668C7_w1200_r1.jpgUnited States Special Operations forces (SOF) — including Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Marine Corps Raiders — are the US military’s most highly trained soldiers, specialising in counterterrorism, counter-insurgency, and “direct action” combat raids, among other missions. Their operations are shrouded in secrecy.

Although US commandos operate on the African continent with the agreement of host governments, ordinary Africans are rarely told about the full extent of US activities — nor offered a say in how and why Americans operate in their countries. Even basic information, like the sweep and scope of deployments by elite US troops and clandestine combat by American commandos on the continent, is mostly unreported across Africa.

But a Mail & Guardian investigation can, for the first time, reveal where US special operators have been active on the African continent — and offer exclusive details about low-profile missions that have been largely kept under wraps.

In 2019, US Special Operations forces were deployed in 22 African countries: Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Côte D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Tanzania and Tunisia.

This accounts for a significant proportion of US Special Operations forces’ global activity: more than 14% of US commandos deployed overseas in 2019 were sent to Africa, the largest percentage of any region in the world except for the greater Middle East.
https://i1.wp.com/dh1rvgpokacch.cloudfront.net/atavist/222157/image/raw/graphicusf-1596967128-79.jpgThese figures come from information provided to the M&G by the US military’s Special Operations Command and Africa Command (AFRICOM).

An interview with Donald Bolduc, a retired brigadier general and head of Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) until 2017, shed further light on these operations. He said that as of 2017, US Special Operations forces had seen combat in 13 African nations. America’s most elite troops continued to be active in 10 of those countries — Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia and Tunisia — last year.

The military footprint of the United States in Africa is extensive. Previous reporting has revealed the existence of a string of military bases across the continent. Formerly secret 2019 AFRICOM planning documents show that there were 29 bases located in 15 different countries or territories, with the highest concentrations in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

More secretive still are the activities of US special operators. Their presence in African countries is rarely publicly acknowledged, either by the US or host nations; citizens are not told what these elite troops are doing on their land.

The US military is tight-lipped about exactly what its elite forces do in each country, but special operators have long conducted missions that range from capture-or-kill commando raids to training missions.

The M&G has spoken to a wide range of sources to fill in the blanks, including US military officers and diplomats; active and retired US special operators; African government and military sources; recipients of US military training in Africa and civilian witnesses. What emerges is a comprehensive picture of US special forces activities in Africa.

Some operations are conducted under the auspices of the so-called 127e programs, named for a budgetary authority that allows US Special Operations forces to use local military units as surrogates in counterterrorism missions. For reasons of security, Special Operations Command will not release information on 127e programs, said spokesperson Ken McGraw.

However, the M&G has confirmed that in recent years the US has conducted at least eight 127e programs in Africa, most of them in Somalia. These activities in Somalia were conducted under the code names Exile Hunter, Kodiak Hunter, Mongoose Hunter, Paladin Hunter and Ultimate Hunter, and involved US commandos training and equipping troops from Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda as part of the fight against the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

Currently, the US is conducting two 127e programs in Somalia, according to an AFRICOM official.

The number of ground missions carried out by US commandos in Somalia has never previously been revealed, but US Air Force documents obtained by the M&G and corroborated by Bolduc indicate the scale of these efforts. The documents, from the 449th Air Expeditionary Group based at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, show that the US and partner nations conducted more than 200 ground missions against al-Shabab between June 2017 and June 2018.

This number is no anomaly. “That’s about average, annually, for the time I was there, too,” said Bolduc, who headed  Special Operations Command Africa from April 2015 to June 2017.

Africa Command characterises missions with partner forces as “advise, assist and accompany” or “AAA” missions, but such operations can be indistinguishable from combat. During a 2017 AAA mission, for example, Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a 38-year-old senior chief petty officer was killed and two other Americans were wounded in a raid on an al-Shabab camp about 65km west of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

AFRICOM does not disclose the number of advise, assist and accompany missions by country, but in an email to the M&G, the command acknowledged 70 such missions in East Africa in 2018, 46 in 2019 and seven in 2020 as of early June.

Among the other special ops-oriented efforts that are still active in the region ― as of February this year ― is Oblique Pillar, an operation that provides private contractor helicopter support to Navy SEALs and the units of the Somali National Army whom they advise; Octave Anchor, a low-profile psychological operation focused on Somalia; and Rainmaker, a highly classified signals intelligence effort.

Another major theatre of US special operations is northwest Africa. Much of the world, for example, first became aware of US military operations in Africa in October 2017, after the Islamic State (IS) ambushed American troops near Tongo Tongo in Niger, killing four US soldiers — two of whom were Green Berets. Those troops belonged to Operational Detachment-Alpha Team 3212, an 11-man unit working with a Nigerien force under the umbrella of Juniper Shield.

Juniper Shield is the United States’ marquee counterterrorism effort in northwest Africa, involving 11 nations: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia. Under Juniper Shield, US Special Operations forces have long trained, advised, assisted and accompanied local partner forces conducting missions aimed at terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and its affiliates, Boko Haram and IS.  The effort, according to the AFRICOM documents, was ongoing as of February.

The other key activity in the region is Exercise Flintlock — an annual special operations training exercise, conducted by Special Operations Command Africa, focused on enhancing the capability of nations in West Africa to plan and conduct counterterrorism missions. Participating African nations included Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.

Libya has also been a major focus. Last year, the United States withdrew its commandos from Libya as the civil war there flared. “Due to increased unrest … a contingent of US forces supporting US Africa Command temporarily relocated from the country in response to security conditions on the ground,” AFRICOM announced in April 2019. Those troops have never returned, according to AFRICOM spokesman John Manley. But that has not, apparently, halted US operations focused on Libya.

According to the AFRICOM documents, Operation Junction Serpent — a surveillance effort in Libya that began as part of the 2016 campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State targets in the coastal city of Sirte — is still active. Under Junction Serpent, Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC — the secretive organisation that controls the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 and other special mission units — was given special authority to develop targeting information for air strikes. A sister operation named Odyssey Resolve, involving intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights over Libya, was another component of the special operations campaign of air strikes in Sirte and was also ongoing as of February.

Not all of the places where US commandos operate in Africa are in or near war zones. Take, for example, Botswana — one of the continent’s most established and peaceful democracies.

In response to questions from the M&G, the US Embassy in Botswana said that elite US troops participated in Exercise Upward Minuteman, a three-week training event held in June 2019 at the Thebephatshwa Air Base in Molepolole. The training involved 200 National Guardsmen from the North Carolina National Guard and an unspecified number of soldiers from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). It includes everything from weapons training to air and ground assault simulations.

“The US Military enjoys a strong bilateral security co-operation relationship with the BDF since its inception. As such, we conduct a variety of military-to-military engagement that at times includes special forces. Over the recent years we have conducted SOF-specific expertise exchanges in 2017 and 2019,” said the embassy’s public affairs officer, Ineke Margaret Stoneham.

Botswana’s armed forces enjoy a relatively clean reputation. This is not true of all the countries with which the US has  partnered. Take Burkina Faso, where US special operations units have trained Burkinabe security forces in countering improvised explosive devices, and advised them ahead of counter-terrorism operations. In July, a Human Rights Watch report implicated Burkinabe soldiers in mass killings in the northern town of Djibo — and this is not the first time they have been accused of serious human rights violations.

Temi Ibirogba, a programme and research associate with the Africa Program at the Center for International Policy, warned that training, equipping and assisting the militaries of nations accused of human rights violations empowers them and provides justifications for abuses.  “If the most powerful democratic nation in the world is supporting your military, you’ll surely believe that the human rights violations you’ve committed are excusable,” she told the M&G.

Speaking on background, a US State Department spokesperson told the M&G that, “The United States is deeply concerned by the growing number of allegations of human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by state security forces in the Sahel, including those documented by Human Rights Watch.”

The spokesperson added: “We exclude from assistance and training individuals or units guilty of human rights violations. We will, therefore, be following ongoing investigations closely to determine how these allegations will affect our legal obligations under US law. To date, we have no information indicating that US-trained or -equipped individuals or units have been implicated in any of the abuses reported.”

Andy Duhon, a former US Special Operations forces officer with more than a decade of experience operating in the Sahel region, questioned the effectiveness of the US military’s involvement in Africa. He said that the US does not understand what African countries want and, as a result, is unsure how to best intervene.

“The US isn’t doing enough. It wants to help but it needs to do a better job of understanding grassroots organisations, governments and the military, instead of just sending money towards long-term training and equipment programmes,” said Duhon.

Comfort Ero, the International Crisis Group’s Africa Program Director, said that the extent of US Special Operations forces in Africa illustrates the “creeping build-up” of the US military on the continent. Although, she added, it’s a mixed message: “There’s a build-up on the one hand, and restraint on the other. It’s clear that the US does not want to be on the frontline.”

Ero said that the lack of transparency ― from both US and African governments ― on the US military’s presence in Africa is a cause for concern, as is their apparent willingness to work with authoritarian governments. “It does feed into that broader concern that some states are being propped up … the US is seen as legitimising and further prolonging authoritarian tendencies, or states [that] are not seen as having legitimacy.”

With additional reporting in Gaborone by Joel Konopo of the INK Centre for Investigative Journalism. Editing by Simon Allison. Produced by Kiri Rupiah.

This investigation was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.