General Gilbert Diendere, responsible for the murder of Thomas Sankara, right-hand man of Blaise Compaore, installed himself as president following this week’s France-US-AFRICOM-backed coup.
By Wayne Madsen
There are significant indications that the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, engineered a military coup in Burkina Faso in order to protect U.S. military bases in the impoverished West African nation. General Gilbert Diendere, the former military aide to the longtime Burkinabe dictator, Blaise Compaore, overthrew Burkina Faso’s interim democratic government and established a ruling junta inaptly called the “National Council for Democracy” with himself as the head.
Armed troops loyal to Diendere, the chief of the feared presidential guard that brutally enforced order during Compaore’s 27-year rule, stormed into a Cabinet meeting in the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou and placed President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Yacouba Zida under house arrest. There were indications that General Diendere overthrew the government in order to restore Compaore to power.
In August, the transition government’s Constitutional Court ruled that the presidential candidate of Compaore’s former ruling, Congress for Democracy and Progress party, Eddie Constance Konboigo, was ineligible to run for office. The plans for the military coup against the transition government were formulated after the court’s ruling.
Ousted during a popular rebellion in 2014, Compaore fled to the neighboring Ivory Coast, another nation where AFRICOM has significant influence within the armed forces. Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara, who originally hails from Burkina Faso, then-Upper Volta, is a close friend and ally of Compaore. Ouattara was placed into office as president of Ivory Coast after dubious interference by the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a cipher for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as well as non-governmental organizations financed by George Soros’s Open Society Institute.
Diendere has been an active participant in AFRICOM’s annual FLINTLOCK military exercises. He even served as the chairman for the Burkina Faso FLINTLOCK Committee. Under the rule of Compaore, Burkina Faso permitted AFRICOM and the CIA to set up two secretive bases inside Burkina Faso, one a drone base at Ouagadougou Airport with the operational code-named of CREEK SAND and a classified regional intelligence fusion center attached to the U.S. embassy in Ouagadougou bearing the code-named of AZTEC ARCHER.
AFRICOM heavily relied on Diendere to support the U.S. Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership and U.S. military special operations against Islamist guerrillas active in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and southern Algeria. AFRICOM also provided training to Diendere’s elite Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) that carried out the coup against Burkina Faso’s democratic transitionary government. Diendere’s closest AFRICOM liaison officer was U.S. Army Colonel Kurt Crytzer.
Although the coup against the Burkinabe government was condemned by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and French President Francois Hollande, the criticism from the U.S. State Department was couched in typical muted terms. It was clear that the State Department did not want to appear to be aggressively condemning a coup that was hatched and carried out by the Pentagon’s and CIA’s military friends in Burkina Faso. Hollande also appeared to have forgotten that in 2008 Diendere was awarded one of France’s most prestigious military medals, the Legion of Honor.
While he was Burkina Faso’s dictator, Compaore was feted by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House and at a reception for foreign leaders in New York who were attending the annual UN General Assembly plenary session. Compaore personally assassinated Burkina Faso’s revolutionary and progressive leader Thomas Sankara in a CIA- and French intelligence-backed military coup in 1987. Sankara was an ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro and a strong opponent of the World Bank and U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s aggressive military policies in the Third World. On Compaore’s orders, Sankara’s body was dismembered and buried in an unmarked grave. Many Burkinabe believe that Diendere was, along with Compaore, personally involved in murdering Sankara and disposing of his body. With the approval of Washington, Compaore reversed all of Sankara’s progressive policies and returned Burkina Faso to a neo-colonialist outpost of U.S. and French dominance over Africa.
Among the candidates planning to run for president of Burkina Faso were a number of loyalists of Sankara, known as “Sankarists.” One leading Sankarist candidate, Bénéwendé Sankara, the leader of the “l’Union pour la renaissance-Parti sankariste” (UNIR-PS), was considered a favorite to become the next president. Although no relation to the assassinated president, Sankara has long been a defender of his late namesake’s progressive leftist policies.
The CIA and AFRICOM became alarmed that a follower of Sankara could be elected president, this jeopardizing America’s covert military and intelligence operations in Burkina Faso.
Conveniently, Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who served as an “economic hit woman” for the Ford Foundation, World Bank, and CIA in Indonesia, Suriname, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, and the Philippines, was in Ghana when the 1987 coup against Sankara was launched. Although her role in the coup is subject to speculation, her record is rife with close involvement with the governments of dictators like Suharto of Indonesia, General Muhammad Zia Ul-Haq of Pakistan, and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
Diendere was involved in a number of armed conflicts in Africa that have also involved CIA and Israeli Mossad operatives. These include the bloody civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Diendere was also involved in the shipment of arms from Romania to the CIA-supported UNITA guerrillas in Angola during the time that the Angolan group was subject to a UN arms embargo. There is evidence that Diendere was also involved in illegally supplying arms to Ouattara loyalists in Ivory Coast. The illicit weapons, transported to Ivory Coast without the authorization of the Brazilian government but with the knowledge of the CIA and Soros groups, originated with the Brazilian arms manufacturer Condor S/A. Industria Quimica.
As Burkina Faso’s chief spymaster, Diendere maintained regular contact with the CIA’s station chief in Ouagadougou and top AFRICOM intelligence officers.
A number of Africa specialists predicted that AFRICOM would become a protection racket designed to maintain in power America’s client-dictators in Africa. The events in Burkina Faso have borne out the prediction. This author’s book, “Decade of Death: Secret Wars and Genocide in Africa 1993-2003,” warned that U.S. foreign policy in Africa would be “militarized” under AFRICOM with the U.S. State Department’s role in determining American policy vis-à-vis Africa demoted to a mere advisory role.
With West Africa facing increased desertification as a result of global climate change, America’s policies in pan-Sahel Africa have almost exclusively been concentrated on stemming the activities of Salafist insurgent groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger and Ansar al Dine in Mali. Diendere has been a major figure in AFRICOM anti-insurgency operations extending from Chad in the east to Mali in the west. The Salafists in West Africa would not have gained as much strength had it not been for the AFRICOM/NATO operations in Libya that overthrew that nation’s leader, Muammar Qaddafi, in 2011. AFRICOM and NATO have cynically used the expansion of Salafist extremism throughout West Africa to justify a greater U.S. military presence in the entire region.
Acting as agents for the Pentagon and CIA are local military commanders like Diendere in Burkina Faso and Brigadier General Zakaria Ngobongue in Chad. These military officers, who have been groomed by AFRICOM, are nothing more than protection agents for U.S. imperial interests and reprise the roles of British colonial agents during the height of the British Empire.