Archive for the ‘East Africa’ Category

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A new “scramble for Africa?”

January 16, 2014

The Scramble for Africa is a term for the 19th century colonization of that continent by all the major European powers.  It is considered one of the darkest periods of European imperialism, and many claim the sad state of much of the continent today is a direct legacy of that period.

Might we be seeing a new scramble for Africa, this time featuring Asian powers?  China has been actively pursuing both economic and political interests in Africa for nearly two decades, and now Japan is responding in kind, with Prime Minister Abe having recently returned from a major trade mission to several African nations.  The Japanese deny that they are in direct competition with China, but even if indirect, they are certainly in competition.

The East Asian nations are not the only ones.  India has always been involved in East Africa and are the nearest major power, with direct sea lanes across the Indian Ocean.  Over the last two years, I have noted how several Muslim states – in particular Qatar – are seeking to gain influence in North Africa and the Sahel.

None of this, of course, is akin to 19th century colonization, and there is no new Berlin Conference on the horizon where the map will be carved into spheres of influence.  But in many ways, this 21st century scramble is a more sophisticated version of the same geopolitical impulse.  Just as British power was perceived to be on the wane in the late 19th century, thus opening up the world to competition from other powers, so, too, is US power seen on the wane.  Into the perceived power vacuum, other powers – both regional and global – are jockeying for position before the next macrodecision begins.

The Four Phases of the Long Cycle . . . We are in the coalitioning phase; macrodecision (previously war but possibly Great Power Collapse) is fast approaching

The Four Phases of the Long Cycle . . . We are in the coalitioning phase; macrodecision (previously war but possibly Great Power Collapse) is fast approaching

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The US war in East Africa

October 28, 2011

After reports last month that the US was building “a constellation of secret drone bases” across East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and news earlier this month that an American combat team had been deployed to Uganda to kill or capture Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, the report that the US is backing Kenya’s invasion of Somalia is perhaps unsurprising.   On top of that news comes confirmation of the completion of one of those drone bases, in Ethiopia (although the Ethiopian government officially denies what locals can see with their own eyes).   The latter Washington Post story contains several tidbits of information about the growing US military presence in East Africa:

Mindful of the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” debacle in which two U.S. military helicopters were shot down in the Somali capital of Mogadishu and 18 Americans killed, the Obama administration has sought to avoid deploying troops to the country.

As a result, the United States has relied on lethal drone attacks, a burgeoning CIA presence in Mogadishu and small-scale missions carried out by U.S. Special Forces. In addition, the United States has increased its funding for and training of African peacekeeping forces in Somalia that fight al-Shabab.

. . . The Air Force operates a small fleet of Reapers from the Seychelles, a tropical archipelago in the Indian Ocean, about 800 miles from the Somali coast.

The U.S. military also operates drones — both armed versions and models used strictly for surveillance — from Djibouti, a tiny African nation that abuts northwest Somalia at the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. About 3,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the only permanent U.S. base on the African continent.

The article also contains an admission by a Kenyan official that the US has provided unspecified “technical assistance” for the Somali invasion, a claim which the US officially denies.