Africa: United States after the Spoils of the Continent

Luis Beatón
NAIROBI, Jan. 5, 2020 -- Smoke rises from a U.S. millitary base in Lamu County, Kenya, Jan. 5, 2020. The Somali extremist group al-Shabab said it has attacked the U.S. military base in Kenya's coastal Lamu County on Sunday morning. The police said the airstrip used by the U.S. marine was destroyed and aircraft were burned. (Photo by Xin Huashefa/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Xin Huashefa via Getty Images)Smoke rises from a U.S. military base in Lamu County, Kenya, on Jan. 5, 2020. Photo: Xin Huashefa/Xinhua via Getty

The United States has 29 known military installations in 15 countries on the continent, while France, a former colonial power, has bases in 10 countries. No other country outside the continent has so many military bases in Africa, according to data from https://thetricontinental.org.
enduring-1582752829But what is behind this deployment, anyone who is not familiar with the plans of domination promoted by the strategists of the empire in Washington might ask.

The answer may be simple, depending on how you look at it. Africa is home to a number of important natural resources: 98 percent of the world’s chromium, 90 percent of cobalt, 90 percent of platinum, 70 percent of coltan, 70 percent of tantalite, 64 percent of manganese, 50 percent of gold, 33 percent of uranium, as well as a significant part of the world’s reserves of other minerals such as bauxite, diamonds, tantalum, wolfram and tin, according to estimates by international organizations.

Add to that, in general terms, that the continent has 30 percent of all mineral reserves, 12 percent of known oil reserves, 8 percent of natural gas reserves and 65 percent of the world’s arable land, not to mention significant water reserves, despite the droughts and famines that plague the continent.

It is not difficult to realize that there are great “spoils” that the United States seeks to control in order to maintain its hegemonic policy in the world. Many rare and other less rare minerals on which the development of current and future technologies depends and will depend.

How can the United States attempt to control this “fortune” of the African peoples?

In February 2007, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the creation of the infrastructure of a new military command for Africa, called AFRICOM, to coordinate all U.S. “military and security interests” on the African continent. This is the “apparatus” that today protects U.S. plans in the region.

Since 1983, the Pentagon had already deployed the CENTCOM command in the Middle East and in the countries of the Persian Gulf, including Egypt. Its mission was to look after its interests and those of its allies in the region. In addition, since 1947 there was PACOM, which covered the entire Pacific area and included the African islands of Madagascar, Comoros and Mauritius.

After the creation of AFRICOM on September 30, 2008, based in Stuttgart (Germany), the Americans began to strengthen their presence on the continent. In Algeria, they created a Terrorism Studies and Research Center, which was supplemented by an electronic listening and communications base located near Tamanrasset in southern Algeria. Because of its geographical location, southern Algeria is at the epicenter of the entire Sahel region and close to Algerian gas wells.

An example of the aims of these military groups was seen when an international coalition of 18 countries led by France, UK and USA, and coordinated by NATO, under cover of two UN resolutions (17/3/2011), launched attacks in Libya. This new war was directed from the US command post at the Stuttgart base in Germany, headquarters of AFRICOM. In this way, AFRICOM received recognition as the body that coordinates and plans military interventions in Africa.

But it is clear that the military activities are aimed at exercising control over African natural resources, especially hydrocarbons flowing to North America, and on the other hand, countering the increasingly important presence of China in Africa, even though they are hidden under the cloak of the international fight against terrorism used by Washington in its infamous and self-appointed role of world policeman.

The birth of ARICOM underlines the interest in access and control of the extractive industries before oil and now, especially the “rare” metals that are used to build batteries, spacecraft components and other devices that will be built with these raw materials.

It is also a great investment considering that internal conflicts in African countries are a market par excellence for U.S. arms producers. Rounded business.

One of the most notorious examples of AFRICOM’s presence is in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), especially at Camp Base, a military base on the outskirts of Kisangani.

On January 27, 2021, a delegation of AFRICOM officials arrived in DRC to discuss with the Congolese military the need for “cooperation and engagements, security and stability efforts, and working together to further professionalize the DRC military and strengthen ties.”

A recent analysis by The Grayzone provided further insight into the U.S. presence in the region.

Cobalt, a key metallic element used in lithium batteries and other “green” technologies, is sourced from slave labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While the West is pointing the finger at China, the U.S. Africa Command is indirectly monitoring mining operations that benefit U.S. companies, the report noted.

In other words, DRC is now “a magnificent African cake,” as it was called in the last century by the Belgian King Leopold II (1835-1909) who went so far as to kill some eight million people to plunder its gold, ivory and rubber.

More recently, Thegrayzone described, U.S. President Biden’s International Trade Administration stated, “With total mineral wealth estimated in the tens of trillions of dollars,” what is now called the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) “offers opportunities for U.S. companies with a high tolerance for risk.”

Africa Command’s role is to reduce that risk. The U.S. Department of Defense states that Africa “has a plethora of strategic materials, such as cobalt, chromium, tantalum and others. African resources are critical to 21st century progress” (read: U.S. corporate dominance).

Thegrayzone pointed out that from the late 1990s to the present, Euro-American mining, processing and financial corporations have relied on the slave labor of miners and the muscle of armed gangs to export rare earth metals, such as coltan and tantalum, to the West for vital components in computers, phones, missiles and so on. The race for renewable energy opens a new era of competition for the rare metal, cobalt.

While violence continues in much of Congo, so do exports to most of the world. Companies’ exploitation of the global climate emergency has triggered a race for cobalt, says Grayzone.

Concentrated in 3,000 companies, the so-called global green economy is worth $4.5 trillion, more than the international oil and gas sector. The renewable energy market alone is worth more than $600 billion. Electric vehicles are valued at about $170 billion and are expected to grow to $700 billion in the next five years, with the United States and its military industrial complex behind this “booty”.

It is unfortunate that of the 255,000 Congolese who mine cobalt for Western potentates, 40,000 are children.

The DRC is directly related to Washington’s long term efforts to rule the world by force, but first the “loot” must be secured, the lives the blacks of Africa do not enter into the equation.