Join the Black Alliance for peace and take part in its campaign in October to shut down Africom
About BAP: The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) seeks to recapture and redevelop the historic anti-war, anti-imperialist, and pro-peace positions of the radical Black movement. Through educational activities, organizing and movement support, organizations and individuals in the Alliance work to oppose both militarized domestic state repression, and the policies of de-stabilization, subversion and the permanent war agenda of the U.S. state globally.
The BAP Campaign: “No Compromise, No Retreat: Defeat the War Against African/Black People in the U.S. and Abroad” is the key programmatic work of the Alliance. The campaign represents a broad strategic and tactical framework. It responds to the changing dynamics of the moment while providing a common collective direction for the 1) peace, 2) People(s)-Centered Human Rights, and 3) anti-imperialist educational and organizing work of Alliance members.
One subsection of the campaign is:
U.S. Out of Africa: Shut Down AFRICOM. This work emerges out of the efforts of the Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases, an organization BAP was instrumental in building that is committed to closing the estimated 800 to 1,000 U.S. military bases established outside the United States. We have developed the U.S. Out of Africa Network (USOAN) as the organizing arm of the U.S. Out of Africa: Shut Down AFRICOM campaign.
Objective: October 1, 2021 marks 13 years since the United States African Command (AFRICOM) was established. The purpose of AFRICOM is to use U.S. military power to impose U.S. control of African land, resources and labor to service the needs of U.S. multinational corporations and the wealthy in the United States. Throughout the month of October, please join us to demand the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from
Africa, the demilitarization of the African continent, the closure of U.S. bases throughout the world, and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) must oppose AFRICOM and support hearings on AFRICOM’s impact on the African continent.
Starting: October 1, 2021
BAP Social Media Handles:
Facebook: Black Alliance for Peace
The following toolkit includes:
Ways to support:
Endorse the Month of Action Against AFRICOM
Share AFRICOM educational resources on social media and in your communities
Attend Month of Action Against AFRICOM Webinars/Teach-Ins
Organize and facilitate a teach in using this guide
AFRICOM Fact Sheet
What is AFRICOM ?
United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is one of 11 of the US Department of Defense combatant commands with a geographic function and mission that provides command and control of military forces. AFRICOM is responsible for all US Department of Defense operations, exercises, and security operations on the African continent, its island nations and surrounding waters. AFRICOM initially began in 2007 and became fully operational on October 1, 2008. In 2019 there were 44 African countries partnered with AFRICOM. AFRICOM’s role is to support and work in tandem with US foreign policy in Africa to support its national interests.
How did AFRICOM come about?
In 2007 the US Department of Defense (DoD) came to a decision that AFRICOM was necessary due to the increasing strategic importance of Africa and instructed then president George W. Bush to direct the creation of it.
What is the REAL purpose of AFRICOM?
The real purpose of AFRICOM is to enable terrorism while at the same time prosecute the “war on terror” in Africa. This contradictory action ensures that Africa is in a constant state of war and instability. In doing so AFRICOM nurtures and justifies its own reason for being while developing a dependence of African states on AFRICOM for their defense. This is done to comply with the US (and its European allies) ‘strategic interests’ and objective which is the control of and unfettered access to Africa’s natural resources via their comprador neocolonial “partners”. Research data shows that since the founding of AFRICOM there has been a marked increase in terrorist groups operating in Africa. The dependency on AFRICOM by partner African states also facilitates the training of most of Africa’s military by US or NATO forces thereby increasing their allegiance to US imperialist interests.
Why is BAP against AFRICOM?
As referenced in our principles of unity, BAP takes a resolute anti-colonial, anti-imperialist position that links the international role of the US empire, which is an empire based on war, aggression and exploitation, to the domestic war against poor and working class Black people in the United States.
What can we do ?
Join the U.S. Out of Africa Network (USOAN) which is the organizational arm of the shut down AFRICOM campaign designed to educate the public about the destructive US hybrid war and imperialist policies perpetrated by AFRICOM.
Support the yearly International Month Against Action on AFRICOM (October 1) which aims to raise the public's awareness about the U.S. military's existence in Africa, and how the presence of U.S. forces exacerbates violence and instability throughout the continent. Sign up to get regular updates on our work.
October 1: AFRICOM at 13: Building the Popular Movement or Demilitarization and Anti-Imperialism in Africa. Register at: bit.ly/africom13
October 17: BAP-ATL and Friends of the Congo-ATL AFRICOM Teach-In at 3PM during Congo Week. Register at bit.ly/africomatl
October 18: Socialist Workers League-Nigeria online teach-in on Facebook at 7PM WAT
October 21: Arise Black Child and Mutapa anti-AFRICOM presentation on Zoom and Facebook at 6PM South Africa Time. Zoom Meeting ID: 821 4940 3318, Passcode: 136932
October 23: Movement for African Emancipation is organizing an in-person AFRICOM teach in on 3PM WAT. Zoom Meeting ID: 810 8752 9655
October 24: Ebukhosini Solutions is organizing an online workshop on AFRICOM on Zoom at 1PM South Africa Time. Message +27746904012 on WhatsApp to register.
October 26: BAP - LA Political Education on AFRICOM at 7pm PT
Popular Education Session: U.S. Africa Command
Goal - Participants will receive a basic understanding of the purpose, history, and impact of AFRICOM on the African continent and develop a commitment to anti-war, anti-militarism, and the total liberation of Africa.
Welcome & intros (if turnout small enough): name, pronouns, affiliation(s), what you hope to take away, how you heard, etc (5 mins)
Group agreements/ground rules for the session [i.e. one mic, step up-step back, etc. Write them out for all to see](10 mins)
View BAP video: “What is the Black Alliance for Peace” (https://youtu.be/I3cg-tX1_1A) (5 mins)
Open discussion - What do we know about history between Africa and the U.S.? (10 mins)
Read “Why We Focus on Africa,” which you can find at https://blackallianceforpeace.com/africom2021 (15 mins)
View BAP video: “Shut Down the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)” (https://youtu.be/DudSbg_3Bac) followed by Q&A and/or reflections by attendees (15 mins)
View BAP video: “Why Should African/Black People Care About NATO, U.S. in Africa?” (https://youtu.be/S1oQ5Ra5tWQ) from 4:01 (12 mins)
Read the U.S. Out of Africa: Voices from the Struggle interview in AFRICOM Watch Bulletin #27 on the connection between DOD 1033 and AFRICOM. (10 mins)
Breakout group exercise: Shut Down AFRICOM brainstorming. [Give each group the task of coming up with a list of the following to report back to the larger body] (20 mins)
What strategies/tactics should the campaign and U.S. Out of Africa Network pursue?
Who are some potential allies of the network and campaign?
Who are some opponents?
Group feedback about session [what did they like, dislike, etc.] (7 mins)
Get commitments to join U.S. Out of Africa Network (https://blackallianceforpeace.com/joinusoutofafricanetwork) and/or BAP as members or supporters (https://www.blackallianceforpeace.com/join) (5 mins)
POST SESSION: email strategies, tactics, and reflection notes to Usoan@blackallianceforpeace.com
Imperialism will only be defeated through the sustained actions of the organized people throughout the world. Join us in supporting the International Month of Action to Shut Down AFRICOM.
October 2021 is the 13th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM. The Black Alliance for Peace is launching an International Month of Action with an October 1 webinar and other events to amplify the Shut Down AFRICOM campaign.
October 2021 is the International Month of Action Against AFRICOM. The aim is to expose the American empire’s white supremacist, imperial, and colonial project on the continent.
The Black Alliance for Peace’s International Month of Action Against AFRICOM aims to raise the public’s awareness about the U.S. military’s existence in Africa, and how the presence of U.S. forces exacerbates violence and instability throughout the continent.
As part of the International Month of Action Against AFRICOM, we demand:
-The complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Africa
-The demilitarization of the African continent
-The closure of U.S. bases throughout the world
BAP AFRICOM Fact Sheet: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HL0bYvJya2UUi2ROVbeDHCaiyX-U0Fc1/view
Shut Down the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM): https://youtu.be/DudSbg_3Bac
AFRICOM Watch Bulletin: https://blackallianceforpeace.com/africomwatchbulletin
Why We Focus on Africa: https://blackallianceforpeace.com/movement-news/whywefocusonafrica
Why Should African/Black People Care About NATO, U.S. in Africa?: https://youtu.be/S1oQ5Ra5tWQ
Building the Movement to Shut Down AFRICOM: https://blackagendareport.com/building-movement-shut-down-africom
The Tigray War in Context: A Report by the Horn of Africa Pan Africans for Liberation and Solidarity: http://hoapals.org/the-ongoing-war-in-tigray-ethiopia/
AFRICOM's New Somalia Drone Strikes Bring Bipartisanism To Imperialism: https://player.fm/series/by-any-means-necessary/africoms-new-somalia-drone-strikes-bring-bipartisanism-to-imperialism
What is AFRICOM?: https://youtu.be/7tex_hHIqKE
What is AFRICOM and How Does It Affect Me?: https://youtu.be/mPGjOD9HsBg
2021 Toolkit to Shut Down AFRICOM - Google Docs
The U.S. Out of Africa!: Shut Down AFRICOM campaign is demanding the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Africa and the demilitarization of the African continent. The campaign is an integral element of the Black Alliance for Peace’s general opposition to U.S. global militarization, with its offensive command structures, approximately 800 to 1,000 overseas bases, and the United States' status as the number one arms merchant on the planet. The International Month of Action Against AFRICOM (October 2021) aims to raise the public's awareness about the U.S. military's existence in Africa, and how the presence of U.S. forces exacerbates violence and instability throughout the continent. Learn more about the International Month of Action Against AFRICOM at https://blackallianceforpeace.com/africom2021.
If you would like to join the U.S. Out Of Africa Network, which is the organizational arm of the campaign, please visit https://blackallianceforpeace.com/joinusoutofafricanetwork. You can also email us at USOAN@blackallianceforpeace.com or visit
blackallianceforpeace.com/usoutofafrica to learn more.
Black Alliance for Peace's Africa Team
Resist U.S. Colonization of Africa | https://blackallianceforpeace.com/africom2021
"Keeping Democracy Alive" radio program, June 18, 2020
Interview with Tunde Osazua, U.S. Out of Africa Network Coordinator
BURT COHEN: I’m Burt Cohen, and if we keep on pushing, we are keeping democracy alive. Well, it seems that the murder of George Floyd has shaken awake a lot of us to the fact of systemic racism, which Black people have always known about. The fact that millions of white people could not help but watch an actual grisly killing as it happened, all eight minutes 46 seconds. It was a shock to the system, which brought out millions in angry protests, not just here in America, but all over the world. Of course, systemic racism is hardly limited to this side of the Atlantic. The policy of white male domination and control is hardly new, and it does not stop at national boundaries. I remember hearing the phrase darkest Africa when I was growing up in the '50s. It was common to paint that huge continent as a fantastic, exotic, mysterious place with what we now see as incredibly racist images of the savagery which only existed in white people's imagination.
Anyone that may remember having a globe that had Africa nearly entirely divided up between British, French, German, and Belgian ownership. Something called the scramble for Africa started around 1870 when 10% was under European domination, but by the start of the First World War in 1914, it was around 90%. The European colonialists had several motives: a desire for valuable natural resources, the quest for national prestige, rivalry between European powers, and religious missionary zeal, which went together nicely. I remember wondering about all those neat straight-line borders. Who drew them?
Where the local people even consulted?
So, where are we today? Well into the 21st century, with this new worldwide activism against such incredible racism, does it carry forward toward the liberation of Africa and the end of colonialism and imperialism, at last? Today's show focuses on an ongoing U.S. out of Africa: Shut Down AFRICOM! campaign, with one of its leaders. Tunde Osazua is a member of the Black Alliance for Peace’s Africa Team, and the coordinator of the U.S. Out of Africa network, which is the organizational arm of the Black Alliance for Peace’s campaign designed to end the U.S. invasion and occupation of Africa. Tunde, thanks so much for being with us.
TUNDE OSAZUA: Yeah, thanks for having me.
BURT COHEN: Well, the U.S. has military bases pretty much everywhere on the planet. We know about Afghanistan and Iraq. But even members of Congress were surprised when four American military personnel were killed in Niger. I am guessing nearly everybody who's listening never heard of AFRICOM. To get us started, what is AFRICOM? What are its purposes and goals?
TUNDE OSAZUA: United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) is a full-spectrum combatant command. It’s responsible for all U.S. Department of Defense operations, exercises, and security cooperation on the African continent, its island nations, and surrounding waters.
AFRICOM is the colonization of Africa by the U.S., and constitutes the new scramble for Africa tantamount to when, as you mentioned, in the 1800s, the colonial powers fought over which of them would dominate which parts of the resource rich continent.
The purpose of AFRICOM is to use U.S. military power to impose U.S. control of African land, resources and labor to service the needs of U.S. corporations and the wealthy in the U.S.
U.S. military presence in Africa did not begin with AFRICOM. However, AFRICOM now formalizes that presence with better coordination and strategic focus for realizing the long-term geopolitical goals of U.S. imperialism in Africa.
BURT COHEN: And, certainly, the First World War which regularly listeners know I’m fascinated with, included fighting in Africa. Not you know, it was just the European colonial powers there who were fighting over the treasures that they could find. It amazed me. And there's one story about some troops coming in there, and a whole bunch of bees attack them. And they couldn’t deal with that. Anyway. So how did AFRICOM get there? Did the nations of Africa ask them to be there? And what was President Obama's role regarding AFRICOM?
TUNDE OSAZUA: Yeah, so, in 2007, the Bush administration announced that it would establish the first U.S. African command structure, or announced AFRICOM, essentially, and Libya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe denounced the concept, with most other African states taking a similar stand soon afterwards. And in 2008, Bush visited Africa and encountered almost unanimous rejection of his AFRICOM plan. Only Liberia showed an interest in hosting the AFRICOM headquarters.
So, since its inception, AFRICOM has been based in Stuttgart, Germany, just because of the fierce opposition from many African states. It was established on October 1, 2008, but it's been forced to maintain its headquarters in Germany.
After being rebuked continent wide at its inception in 2008, the Obama administration paved the way for the proliferation of AFRICOM on the continent, as quisling African leaders became more cooperative with the “Black” U.S. president.
During the reign of Barack Obama there was a 1,900% increase in the U.S. military presence on the continent.
BURT COHEN: Wow! 1,900% increase on the continent.
TUNDE OSAZUA: Yes, to parallel that to domestic affairs, under Obama, there was a 2,400% increase in the value of military equipment transferred from the federal government to police forces across the United States through the Department of Defense's 1033 program, which is something the Black Alliance for Peace points out pretty often, just to make that connection. We feel like there are a lot of connections, as you've already kind of spoken about, between policing and militarism on the continent, the African continent, and here, in the United States.
BURT COHEN: Yes, well, at least a lot of us. Millions of Americans have known for a long time and now, even as white people and recognizing that it's like, right, in our face. We can't possibly miss it. How many American missions are there in Africa? And what are the three categories of American military missions there?
TUNDE OSAZUA: Right. So, in 2015, there was a report that revealed that there are three main forms of U.S. military presence in Africa that were categories of basing. There were the forward operating sites, the cooperative security locations, and contingency locations.
And there are currently 46 various forms of bases. There are 46 bases that take on these forms on the continent as well as military to military relations between 53 out of the 54 countries in Africa and the United States.
In terms of missions, the U.S. was conducting 10 missions per day in 2017, according to General Thomas Waldhauser, and that amounted to over 3500 exercises, programs, and engagements per year on the continent.
And to speak to what we were talking about earlier; the 1,900% increase is the most dramatic growth in deployment of America's troops in any region of the globe over the past decade. So, this increase in the amount of missions and the bases and everything have come about because of AFRICOM and the coordination that the U.S. Africa Command has promoted on the continent for the U.S. military.
BURT COHEN: And what do we do with drones? There, they play a unique role, I guess. What do they do?
TUNDE OSAZUA: Drones are unmanned aircraft that are used for bombing and other activities that are deemed too dangerous for members of the U.S. military to carry out. They are low risk for the U.S. in that sense, though they cause devastation in Africa and other parts of the world.
The U.S. military built a $100 million drone base in Niger that became operational last year, and it is the largest construction effort in Air Force in history. They're just forces to carry out bombing, to carry out surveillance, to carry out missions that they deem too dangerous for U.S. military members.
BURT COHEN: But they're fine for people on the ground. The U.S. is spending all this money there. Don't local people get a lot of that money? Isn't that of benefit?
TUNDE OSAZUA: Yeah, so, their public budget is online. As far as how much they’re spending, different reports come out. I think it's been close to $11 billion on all of U.S. military programs, including AFRICOM. A lot of that money does not go to African people. It's more to prop up a lot of the activities that the U.S. is engaged in.
BURT COHEN: Well, there’s that whole missionary way of thinking. I always found it a little bit odd, but that's just me. One of the things that interested me in doing this discussion was that on June 16, there was an online symposium, which I learned is Soweto Day. What is Soweto Day?
TUNDE OSAZUA: Yes, June 16 is known as Soweto Day not only because the South African apartheid regime viciously attacked a youth demonstration in 1976. The youth played a critical role leading up to that day and on the days afterward, signifying a turn in the struggle of the African masses against the U.S.-supported white-colonial minority in South Africa.
The Soweto uprising was a series of demonstrations and protests led by Black school children in South Africa. It is estimated that 20,000 students took part in the protests. They were met with fierce police brutality. The number of protesters killed by police is usually given as 176, but estimates of up to 700 have been made. In remembrance of these events, June 16 is now a public holiday in South Africa, named Youth Day.
BURT COHEN: Yeah, not good public relations, I would think, you know, kill all those kids. Now, in recent years, I and a lot of people have heard about China in Africa. What are they up to? Is it similarly imperialistic? Or are they working more respectfully with locals? You know, people say, “Well, if we're not there, China's there. And China is there. Are we in competition with China? Or maybe, I was wondering if we sort of wrote off investing in Africa after Trump called them what he did. “Those...” can't even say it on the air. Something-hole nations. What about China in Africa?
TUNDE OSAZUA: In 2009, China overtook the US as the continent’s largest trading partner. China was quietly smashing the West’s monopoly over export markets and investment finance. Africa no longer had to go cap-in-hand to the IMF for loans, agreeing to whatever self-defeating terms were on offer, but could turn to China—or even Libya at the time—for investment. And if the U.S. threatened to cut them off from their markets, China would happily buy up whatever was on offer. China’s voracious appetite for raw materials to fuel its own miraculous growth is central to its global trade strategy. That really threatens Western or U.S. economic domination of Africa. So AFRICOM is, in many ways, the response to economic competition with China and China’s increased influence on the continent. AFRICOM is also, you know, to prevent the emergence of any independent African influence, of course. So, yeah, so we were talking about the scramble for Africa like we see, this as the new scramble. U.S. investments haven’t stopped. They continue. Economic dependence on the West—rapidly being shattered by Libya’s Gaddafi at the time and China—would be replaced by a new military dependence. If African countries would no longer come begging for Western loans, export markets, and investment finance, they would have to be put in a position where they would come begging for Western military aid. Chinese trade and investment in Africa continue to grow. According to the China-Africa Research Initiative at John Hopkins University, Chinese FDI stocks in Africa had risen from just two percent of the value of US stocks in 2003 to 55 percent in 2015, when they totaled $35 billion. This proportion is likely to rapidly increase, given that between 2009 and 2012, China’s direct investment in Africa grew at an annual rate of 20.5 percent, while levels of U.S. FDI flows to Africa declined by $8 billion in the wake of the global financial crisis. Chinese African trade, meanwhile, topped $200 billion in 2015. Former national security advisor John Bolton also spoke about China’s attempts to gain a competitive advantage in Africa through predatory practices that supposedly include bribes, opaque agreements, and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s global schemes.
China’s signature ‘One Belt One Road’ policy—to which President Xi Jinping has pledged $124 billion to create global trade routes designed to facilitate $2 trillion worth of annual trade—will also help to improve African links with China. Trump’s policy toward the project was summarized by Steve Bannon, his ideological mentor, and former chief strategist in just eight words: “Let’s go screw up One Belt One Road.” The West’s deeply destabilizing Africa policy—of simultaneously creating the conditions for armed groups to thrive while offering protection against them—goes some way toward realizing this
BURT COHEN: Oh, yeah, the IMF and World Bank to have them as the only source and you do it our way or you don't get anything at all. It's competition. Imagine that—competition. For those who may have just tuned in, Burt Cohen here, the show is keeping democracy alive. And I'm pleased to be talking with Tunde Osazua of the U.S. Out of Africa!: Shut Down AFRICOM campaign. And, you know, in this whole Black Lives Matter age, this is a big part of it as well. You know, as we say, racism doesn't stop at the water's edge.
Now most Americans have, of course, heard of Muammar Gaddafi, former leader of Libya in Northern Africa. Of course, there are many brutal dictators in the world, some of whom we support, others the U.S. seeks to destroy. Do the goals of AFRICOM play a role in the American led ouster of Gaddafi, and what is Libya like now?
TUNDE OSAZUA: Right, yeah, I think that the goals of AFRICOM did play a role in the ouster of Gadhafi. In 2009, Gaddafi was elected President of the African Union, which is the union of African states and African heads of state. And Gaddafi really led African opposition to AFRICOM, as the head of the African Union, which exasperated the U.S., as U.S. diplomatic memos revealed in Wikileaks exposes. North Africa had an effective security system in place during the time of Gaddafi, so they didn't see the need for the U.S. military presence. Essentially, NATO's destruction of Libya achieved three strategic goals for the West and Western plans for the expansion of AFRICOM. Obviously, it removed the biggest obstacle and opponent of the expansion was Gaddafi himself. With him gone, there was no longer any chance that Libya would act as a powerful force against Western militarism. Secondly, it brought about the total collapse of the effective North African security system which had been underpinned by Libya. And finally, NATO's annihilation of the Libyan state turned the country over to the region's terrorist groups. Those groups looted Libya's military arsenals and set up training camps and use those camps and arsenals to expand their operations in that North African and East African region. So, you know, we don't see it as a coincidence that all the recent terror attacks in North Africa have been either prepared in Libya or perpetrated by fighters trained in Libya. Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar al-Sharia, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and literally dozens of others have all benefited from the destruction of Libya. By ensuring the spread of terrorist groups across the region, Western powers created a demand for their military services, a demand which didn't exist before Gaddafi was deposed. We see it as a deliberate war crime by NATO and the U.S. to destroy Libya. And their success sets off the trail of disasters. Corporate media talks about how Gadhafi was an autocrat and dictator, but they omit this humanitarian disaster that was carried out by the United States, NATO, and their partners. Libya fell victim to that, and now there are open air slave markets, terrorism, and just general instability.
Right now, there are two main factions there are fighting for control of the country in a Civil War. There's a lot that came out of this that has benefited the United States, destroyed a lot of lives, and killed a lot of people in Libya.
BURT COHEN: Interesting, I certainly did not know that Gaddafi led the opposition to AFRICOM. That's a significant factor that somehow, we didn't learn here in the American news media, funny thing about that. Now, again, showing my age here, I remember my childhood globe. Looking at Africa, there was something called French West Africa. It was huge in area. What are the current nations, and is there still a colonial presence there?
TUNDE OSAZUA: Yeah, so French West Africa was a colonial federation of eight French colonial territories: Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan, which is now Mali, French Guinea, which is now Guinea, Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, which is now Burkina Faso, Dahomey, which is now Benin, and Niger. The Federation existed from 1895 until 1958.
To speak to the question of is there still a colonial presence, French companies still have basically a monopoly over the most strategic areas in the country's economy, like electricity, telecommunications, infrastructure airports in the hardware industries. France’s continued influence on Francophone African foreign policy is very apparent. The CFA franc, which is the currency used in French West Africa, is still bound to France. It's the last colonial currency on the African continent. Given the fixed rate of exchange between the CFA franc and the Euro, the monetary and exchange rate policies of the francophone nations are also dictated by the European Central Bank, whose monetary orthodoxy entails an anti-inflation bias detrimental to growth.
The CFA franc is a neocolonial device that continues to destroy any prospect of economic development in states in French West Africa. The CFA franc is a barrier to industrialization and structural transformation, serving neither to stimulate trade integration between states, nor boost bank lending to their economies. We could also mention the substantial debt payments states in French West Africa continue to make to France. There are a lot of a lot of remnants of colonialism that continue to work to the detriment of French West Africa.
BURT COHEN: Yeah, there's always ways to make money from it for sure. And you talked about coronavirus, and COVID-19 is everywhere. We could talk a little bit about the impact of COVID-19. on Africa, the former or current imperialists, helping as they could, and wouldn't they stand to benefit from providing aid? What's the reality about COVID-19? And the colonialists in Africa?
TUNDE OSAZUA: The United States has killed people in Africa through drone bombing and other means while providing only minimal assistance to improve the health and well-being of those countries’ populations.
There is the added dimension of Americans dying at alarming rates from COVID19 with minimal government protection or assistance, while the U.S. military offers millions of dollars in aid to African countries to fight the virus.
BURT COHEN: Yeah, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. But every now and then I am. And I remember, again, being as a kid being excited about Patrice Lumumba winning freedom and independence for the former Belgian Congo. I figured that since America was by nature, anti-colonial, of course, we would support him as well. That didn't happen. What are the natural resources there that he wanted to control? And what about the situation there now?
TUNDE OSAZUA: Yes, So, you might be surprised to hear the U.S. initially worked with Belgium to assassinate the first Prime Minister of the newly independent Democratic Republic of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba, because of the threat his leadership posed to U.S. and Western control of strategic raw materials in the DRC. The U.S. also worked with Paul Kagame’s forces to win a coup in Rwanda. Then, in 1996, the U.S. supported the Rwandan and Ugandan invasion of the DRC, which resulted in the deadliest war since World War II with over 6 million deaths , half of those killed were children under the age of
five. The Democratic Republic of Congo is a country with huge natural wealth. Almost every valuable natural resource can be found there, from a multitude of minerals—including diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, tin ore, and coltan—to timber and oil.
These vast resources have been a curse beginning with King Leopold II’s extremely violent colonialism, and the DRC remains awash in bloodshed due to western mining companies and their proxy armies, the military regimes of Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), and Joseph Kabila (DRC), all hidden behind reams of western newsprint blaming Congolese victims for their own suffering. The instability that has resulted allows western companies to efficiently exploit the country and its resources.
BURT COHEN: Well, it makes sense. Unfortunately, for those who may have just tuned, I’m Burt Cohen here. The show is Keeping Democracy Alive. We're looking across the ocean at the giant continent of Africa, in this age of Black Lives Matter. People are waking up to the fact that systemic racism isn't just limited to the United States, but the U.S. is doing it there as well. And other countries have as well. Our guest today is Tunde Osazua from the U.S. Out of Africa!: Shut Down AFRICOM campaign, and before we get to the end, we'll talk about how people can help if they're interested in helping out with what you're doing. There was a popular American film called "Black Hawk Down". In the symposium discussion that was called a propaganda movie about the U.S. in Somalia. What is the political reality in Somalia?
TUNDE OSAZUA: The U.S. mainstream media and politicians blame the crisis in Somalia on Al-Shabaab, an Islamist insurgent group that controls much of southern Somalia. The main culprit behind the crisis, however, is the United States government that led a military invasion of the country from 1992 to '93 in a nefariously dubbed Operation Restore Hope. Ever since, Somalia has been in a perpetual state of war. Al-Shabaab is a product of this U.S. destabilization and the U.S. continues to benefit from a situation that it created by using this radicalized and extreme resistance to U.S. domination as an excuse to have AFRICOM in the region. The U.S. utilizes the instability to wage a deadly drone war on the Somali people as a pretext to impose its control over Somali uranium, iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt and natural gas.
BURT COHEN: A few years ago, Al Shabaab attacked a shopping mall in Kenya. What is Kenya’s role in Somalia and Ethiopia?
TUNDE OSAZUA: Kenya-Somalia relations are marked by tensions that have escalated in recent years and which stem from security issues and the maritime border dispute between the two East African states. Somalia has been in a constant state of political instability since 1991 when the U.S. invaded, which has left the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia struggling to maintain control. Al-Shabaab has flourished due to US intervention and the resulting instability since its formation in 2006 holds territory in the south-eastern portion of Somalia and is constantly engaged in attacks against military forces and civilians in both Somalia and Kenya. The threat posed by Al-Shabaab prompted the Kenyan Government to develop strong ties with Jubaland, a semi-autonomous Somali state located in southern Somalia, bordering Kenya. Nairobi perceives the Jubaland region as an important buffer zone between its territory and Al-Shabaab-controlled territory in Somalia. The Kenyan Government, despite opposition from the governments of both Somalia and Ethiopia, supported the election of Jubaland’s president Ahmed Mohamed Islam last year to ensure the safety of its own borders.
BURT COHEN: Trump had said he was against America’s never-ending wars. But what has happened under the Trump regime?
TUNDE OSAZUA: The increase in AFRICOM operations across the continent under the Trump regime has correlated precisely with the rise in terror threats. Its growth, he said, has been accompanied by “increasing numbers of lethal terror attacks across the continent including those in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Tunisia. In fact, data from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland shows that attacks have spiked over the last decade, roughly coinciding with AFRICOM’s establishment. In 2007, just before it became an independent command, there were fewer than 400 such incidents annually in sub-Saharan Africa. Last year, the number reached nearly 2,000. By AFRICOM’s own official standards, of course, this is a demonstration of a massive failure. Viewed from the perspective of the protection racket, however, it is a resounding success, with U.S. military power smoothly reproducing the conditions for its own expansion. This is the Africa policy Trump has now inherited. But because this policy has rarely been understood as the protection racket it really is, many commentators have, as with so many of Trump’s policies, mistakenly believed he is somehow ‘ignoring’ or ‘reversing’ the approach of his predecessors. In fact, far from abandoning this approach, Trump is escalating it with relish. What the Trump administration is doing, as it is doing in pretty much every policy area, is stripping the previous policy of its ‘soft power’ niceties to reveal and extend the iron fist, which has in fact been in the driving seat all along. Trump, with his open disdain for Africa, has effectively ended U.S.development aid for Africa—slashing overall African aid levels by one third, and transferring responsibility for much of the rest from the Agency for International Development to the Pentagon—while openly tying aid to the advancement of “U.S. national security objectives.”
Given the overwhelming superiority of Chinese development assistance, this is unsurprising. The U.S. has decided to stop trying to compete in this area, and instead to ruthlessly and unambiguously pursue the military approach which the Bush and Obama administrations had already mapped out. To this end, Trump has stepped up drone attacks, removing the (limited) restrictions that had been in place during the Obama era. The result has been a ramping up of civilian casualties, and consequently of the resentment and hatred which fuels militant recruitment. It is unlikely to be a coincidence, for example, that the al Shabaab truck bombing that killed over 300 people in Mogadishu last weekend was carried out by a man from a town which had suffered a major drone attack on civilians, including women and children, in August.
BURT COHEN: Well, we just, the U.S. thinks we have a right to do that. That's something other people who think we just have that right to do that because we're better than everybody else. It sickens me that people think that but you know, and back in the '50s under Eisenhower, who did some good things domestically but did some awful things in terms of foreign policy. We divided up the world, us against Russia. Those were the two entities that should control the world and we fought over everything and everything was defined that way. Vietnam was defined that way how many billions perhaps if people lost their lives and limbs when it wasn't true, Vietnam was fighting for their independence. What is Europe’s role in Africa now?
TUNDE OSAZUA: Generally, Europe is a junior partner to U.S. imperialism. We spoke a little about France, and other European countries like Germany, the U.K. and others operate very similarly. There are aspects of neocolonialism and remnants of a colonial past that continue to negatively affect African people. Colonial policing systems are still in place in most of the continent, for example.
BURT COHEN: The U.S. loves the Saudi regime, murderous though they are. Please tell us about the role of the Saudis and the other rich Arab oil states' role in Africa.
TUNDE OSAZUA: Saudi Arabia is also a junior partner in U.S. imperialism. We call it a new scramble for Africa for a reason. Many states are looking to benefit from the plunder of Africa to the detriment of African people. Saudi Arabia uses its commercial, political, and military ties with several mostly East African states to ally with the US on various imperialist projects.
BURT COHEN: What has been the result of the 20 year so called war on terror in Africa?
TUNDE OSAZUA: On the topic of perpetual war and its effects on the rise of terrorism in Africa, a detailed study by the United Nations recently concluded that in “a majority of cases, state action appears to be the primary factor finally pushing individuals into violent extremism in Africa.” Of more than 500 former members of militant organizations interviewed for the report, 71 percent pointed to “government action,” including “killing of a family member or friend” or “arrest of a family member or friend” as the incident that prompted them to join a group.
And so the cycle continues: drone attacks breed recruitment, which produces further terror attacks, which leaves the states involved more dependent on U.S. military support. Thus does the West create the demand for its own ‘products.’
It does so in another way as well. Alexander Cockburn, in his book ‘Kill Chain,’ explains how the policy of targeted killings – another Obama policy ramped up under Trump – also increases the militancy of insurgent groups. Cockburn, reporting on a discussion with US soldiers about the efficacy of targeted killings. He wrote that if targeted killing remains a central strategy of the War on Terror, it is set to be an endless war.
But endless war is the whole point. For not only does it force African countries, finally freeing themselves from dependence on the IMF, into dependence on AFRICOM; it also undermines China’s blossoming relationship with Africa.
BURT COHEN: Has the U.S. been part of a militarization of police there as well as here?
TUNDE OSAZUA: AFRICOM has played a role in training police forces all over the continent. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) (formerly Africa Center for Security Studies) provides indoctrination for “next generation” African police officers. Kind of like a School of the Americas for Africa.
BURT COHEN: What are the demands of the U.S. Out of Africa campaign, and is our congress listening?
TUNDE OSAZUA: The campaign to Shut Down AFRICOM is part and parcel of the movement to close all U.S. foreign and NATO bases everywhere; the movement to demilitarize the U.S. and the world. This objective is a requirement of any legitimate and genuine peace movement.
We’re calling for, and it is imperative that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) take a clear and explicit public position on AFRICOM. Are they for it or against it? Part of this call is also for the CBC to hold comprehensive public hearings on the impact of AFRICOM. We have seen some action and statements on the part of Barbara Lee and Ilhan Omar, but they don’t go far enough.
BURT COHEN: Do you feel momentum out of this unique moment in American history? What can citizens do?
TUNDE OSAZUA: In the midst of largely Black-led uprisings against the U.S. settler-colonial state, we at the Black Alliance for Peace and the U.S. Out of Africa Network are clear that a mass movement must be forged to expose AFRICOM and its real purpose and make it inseparable with the concerns we have over the militarization of police in our communities in the United States. People can join our network at
www.blackallianceforpeace.com/joinusoutofafricanetwork. We also need to spread the word as, like you mentioned, many are not aware of AFRICOM.
That is why a lot of our work is focused on political education in the form of regular communications in the form of emails, webinars, videos, etc. We are also working to elevate the voices of African people who are fighting against AFRICOM, imperialism and neocolonialism, so helping us spread the word is key.
BURT COHEN: Thanks for joining us on Keeping Democracy Alive, Tunde. TUNDE OSAZUA: Thanks for having me.
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