Monday, December 20, 2010

Wiki-Leaks Reveals U.S. Role in Africa

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published Dec 18, 2010 11:15 AM

WikiLeaks release of U.S. State Department diplomatic cables continues to expose Washington’s Africa policy for its imperialistic designs. Various African states, those viewed as enemies and others considered allies, all face successive U.S. administrations’ efforts for economic control and political destabilization.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson’s briefing on Dec. 9 outlined the Obama administration’s priorities on the continent. Carson played down the damages from WikiLeaks’ exposures and attempted to shift the discussion to other issues such as the recent disputed elections in Ivory Coast.

Carson said, “The United States government is very much focused and engaged in a wide array of issues across the African continent and WikiLeaks has not distracted U.S. officials in any way from their overall goal of building a strong U.S.- Africa partnership.” (, Dec. 10)

Throughout Africa, however, people inside and outside of various governments have expressed outrage at U.S. efforts to undermine the independence and sovereignty of various states. These cables reveal that U.S. decisions led to displacement and deaths for millions of Africans.

U.S. targets Somalia and Zimbabwe

For more than three decades U.S. imperialism has given special focus to the Horn of Africa. A major effort has taken place since the early 1990s in the nation of Somalia where the U.S. has intervened militarily both directly from 1992 to 1994 and indirectly in recent years since 2006.

According to the Sudan Tribune, the U.S.-backed government in Ethiopia was compelled to intervene in Somalia in 2006 to carry out Washington’s foreign policy aims in the region. The intervention resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis on the African continent, leaving tens of thousands dead and more than 2 million people displaced.

A series of leaked cables indicate that there was a secret agreement between the U.S. and the Ethiopian government of Meles Zenawi. The Ethiopian army would cross into Somalia to stop the Islamic Courts Union from consolidating power.

The ICU movement had brought a much-desired sense of social stability to a country which had been without an internationally recognized state since 1991. The ICU was an independent alliance of community organizations that sought to reconstruct Somalia based on the interests of the people and not Western imperialist forces.

The Dec. 6 Sudan Tribune wrote, “Ethiopia had no intention to invade and said the U.S. was behind the plot and it was sponsored by the United States government.” The report noted that Washington was “already tied up in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was in no position to openly launch large-scale attacks against Somalia and had to sponsor a country like Ethiopia.”

This same report wrote that the Bush administration’s “U.S. head for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer spearheaded the proxy war along with allies in the State Department and the Pentagon.”

Another major concern of the U.S. has been the growing involvement by the People’s Republic of China on the African continent. Relations have been particularly strong between the PRC and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, the ruling party in this southern African state.

Washington treats Zimbabwe as an enemy, since 2000 targeting President Robert Mugabe’s government for regime-change, following its implementation of a land redistribution program that empowered the Indigenous African masses.

A Dec. 12 Zimbabwe Herald article analyzing the WikiLeaks documents reported: “The West tried various strategies, including a desperate attempt to ask China to influence the reform of Zimbabwe’s security sector, in a futile attempt to effect regime-change. After most of their strategies dating back to the year 2000 such as civil unrest, the possibility of a coup and sanctions failed, the United States and Germany resolved to work towards a reform of the security services.”

Big Oil and U.S. policy toward Nigeria

WikiLeaks’ most striking revelations arguably relate to U.S. interference in the internal affairs of the oil-rich west African state of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. A leading newspaper in Nigeria, ThisDay, reported Dec. 8 that the U.S. State Department, in conjunction with Shell Oil, planted operatives within the government to influence domestic and foreign policy.

According to ThisDay, “Shell’s top executive in Nigeria told U.S. diplomats that Shell had inserted employees to every relevant department and so knew ‘everything that was being done in those ministries.’ She also reportedly boasted that the government had ‘forgotten’ about the extent of Shell’s infiltration and were unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations.”

In addition, ThisDay continues: “The cache of secret dispatches from Washington’s embassies in Africa also revealed that the Anglo-Dutch oil firm swapped intelligence with the U.S., in one case providing U.S. diplomats with the names of Nigerian politicians it suspected of supporting militant activity, and requesting information from the U.S. on whether the militants had acquired anti-aircraft missiles.”

Also in Nigeria, a potentially criminal case against the Pfizer pharmaceutical company was sabotaged when the firm hired operatives to foster allegations of corruption against Nigeria’s attorney general. Pfizer had come under fire for the 1996 “test” of tainted antibiotics used to treat meningitis in children. The test resulted in the deaths of patients and the sickening of others who suffered brain damage, paralysis, deafness and blindness. (New York Times, Dec. 10)

The New York Times reported: “The cable indicated that the information alleging corruption on the part of the attorney general was spread through the media to publicly pressure him to drop the lawsuits.” Nigerian Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa dismissed the $6 billion lawsuit and eventually settled the case for $75 million.

The Nigerian Vanguard newspaper reported on Dec. 11 that Pfizer reached the settlement for a mere $75 million for the damage done through the tainted medicines, which resulted in the deaths of 11 children and deformities in dozens of others. The so-called clinical trials in 1996 were said to have involved 200 patients who were given the drug Trovan.

Trovan had been approved for usage in adults only in 1997 in Europe and the United States. In the aftermath of reports of liver failure and deaths resulting from Trovan usage, however, it was then banned in Europe and restricted in the U.S. in 1999.

Egypt and Sudan unity

Washington is also hostile toward another oil-rich African state, Sudan, whose government has maintained an independent foreign policy. The U.S. and the International Criminal Court have subjected Sudan to allegations of war crimes and genocide.

The Khartoum central government headed by the National Congress Party of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir signed several years ago a Comprehensive Political Agreement with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, which is based in the south of Africa’s largest geographic nation-state. The CPA resulted in the cessation of hostilities.

The southern region has set a referendum in 2011 on its future. This could result in breaking up Sudan and a resumption of the civil war involving the SPLM and Khartoum. The U.S. is pushing to hold the referendum on schedule and has sent a delegation to the south of Sudan headed by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, a leading adviser to President Obama on foreign affairs.

Nonetheless, a close U.S. ally, Egypt, has told Washington of its fears over the potential division of Sudan. Documents published by WikiLeaks reveal that “Egypt had even asked the U.S. government to help postpone next month’s referendum by four to six years.” (Kenyan Daily Monitor Correspondent, Dec. 7)

Leaked cables highlight need for anti-imperialist demands

The exposed cables make it clear that the Democratic Party and the Obama administration have not changed Washington’s imperialist policy toward Africa. The anti-war and peace movements in the U.S. need to incorporate anti-interventionist and anti-imperialist demands with specific reference to the African continent into their political programs.

At a July 23-25 national conference hosted by the United National Anti-War Committee in Albany, a strong resolution was adopted calling for an end to U.S. military intervention in Africa and upholding the right of self-determination and sovereignty for the African continent. The resolution was jointly sponsored by the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, the International Action Center, the Virginia Defenders for Freedom Justice and Equality and among other progressive organizations.

This resolution can serve as a guide to the anti-war movement as a whole, which must address concretely U.S. imperialist policy toward the African continent. These efforts on the part of the anti-war movement in the U.S. can assist greatly in strengthening international solidarity throughout the world.
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