Military alliances and military intervention

Looking back over the history of Africa from the arrival of slave traders from the Western and Arab world, external armed powers continuously ran military expeditions all over the continent, in search of black people to export as slaves. These armed powers, mostly acting under the orders of royal houses and noble families from Western and Eastern empires, were militarily in competition in Africa and fighting each others on the prowl for the "black gold"; black men, women and children. Most of these slave traders, their employers and sponsors from the royal societies in the USA respectively in Portugal, Spain, Sweden, France (Europe), Brazil or the Arab world enrich themselves, industrialise their countries and build their modern cities from this trade in barbarity. Some of the commanders who ran these murderous military expeditions to gain control over Africa were in the nineteen century are still being celebrated as heroes in their native countries today. One of this notorious figure or mass murder is for example Henry Morton Stanley, the beloved among the royals of Europe and noble societies of the Americas.

In 1885, the former slave traders from the West and East committed to joined forces instead of fighting each others over Africa, and convened the "Berlin Congo-Conference" in Germany, in order to form military alliances beyond colonial lines after an arbitrarily partition of the black continent without consideration of existing traditional and socio-cultural societies or regions. The real retrogression of Africa began with the ratification of "the General Act of the Congo-Conference of Berlin", on 26 February 1885, by representatives of the President of the USA, European and Ottoman empires. After banning the slave trade, these super-powers agreed to secure free access into lands and waters in Africa in order to get control over ressources in this continent for "the development of the commerce and of civilizations in certain regions" of the black continent, and "to assure all the people the advantages of free navigation upon the two principal African rivers which empty into the Atlantic ocean.". With the brutal partition of Africa they promised "to increase the moral and material wellbeing of the indigenous populations.” But, as their colonial militaries arrived in the continent, the apocalypse also began for the Africans. The so-called civilized from Europe and their allies exposed themselves as the most barbaric people, as enemies of humanity. To extend their system or to strengthen their power, they formed alliances with corrupt local traditional leaders and with small ethnic groups. They created segregated societies all over Africa, divided between "militarily allied local traditional leaders and their ethnic groups" and hostile populations, who were resistant to external powers, looters and murders. At the same time, the colonial powers built in the midst of African societies a kind of local "intellectual elite" in different cities, who could get some high school skills and they later qualified as "assimilated persons". While the rural populations were barred from schools and then dubbed "indigenous people" or "the brutes". This is the conflict line designed by the former slave traders and later colonial military powers, which is hurting the African continent since then until today.

In the middle of 1950s, Africa entered into a process of independence. In reaction to the permanent resistance by rural populations, during centuries and mostly without arms, "local intellectual elites" or the so-called "assimilated persons" took the lead of the liberation struggles in Africa. In the most cases, some "assimilated persons" turned into other military powers as China, Cuba and the former Eastern Soviet Union for alliances. It was now the beginning of the Cold War in Africa, with the Western colonial powers looking for to maintain the total control of natural ressources of the black continent and the Soviets to extend its communist empire there. Both imperial powers were fighting for influence over Africa and its leadership; the dream of African independence did not become a reality and turned into a nighmare for the majority of its populations, with uncounted civil wars, more crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, permanent starvations and extreme poverty.

After the failure of independence, and external powers acting to destabilise different African countries, most African leaders redesigned their policies and formed new military alliances. Among their allies were former colonial powers, as well as new ones like China, Brazil, India, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Israel, Pakistan, Iran, Emirates Arab United and Turkey. In this constellation, the corruption of the elite became a means of influencing local political leadership from outside in order to defend the interests of these external powers. Those leaders who tried to resist the established military power in Africa, were brutaly assassinated. The case of Emery Patrice Lumumba (Congo independence leader and the first elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who was deposed after just 12 weeks and then killed by firing squad)is still in our memory.

Some of these external powers are very hostile to each others when competing for natural ressources or other issues outside Africa, but share interests in a single country. There are many military alliances existing, from the past to today, and others are under way. Taking a look on existing military alliances throughout Africa, we find deals and cooperation aimed at gaining influence over the continent, which also enable the external powers to get free access in raw materials or Rare Earths at a low-cost. Through the militarisation of African countries, these external powers instigate violence and wage wars in order to maintain the statu quo. It's a continuation of the spirit of the 1885 Berlin-Congo Conference, putting the plundering in the centre of politics.

Among old military alliances existing in Africa, we should consider the US-Belgian coalition on DRCongo, which went back to the 1940s at the beginning of the War World II, as the Americans entered into partnership with the former colonial power to get free access to uranium for the production of the first atomic bomb, dropped later on May 1945 in both Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Since then the Americans have kept their eyes on the uranium site in the DRCongo, and from this US-Belgian military alliance resulted the strong armed partnership between the CIA, the Belgium's secret service and Mobutu Sese Seko, who seized the power in 1961 after his contribution to the killing of Patrice Lumumba. Mobutu Sese Seko entered into the modern African history as a notorious and most repressive dictator, who stayed in power for 36 years forming also several strategic military alliances with Germany, Israel, China, the Apartheid regime of South Africa, France and UK among others. For many of these external powers, the dictator Mobutu was a kind of frontman in the destabilizing policy of the Central African Region and the guarantee for the free access to raw materials like cobalt, copper, diamonds, and gold. Countries like Germany, USA, Belgium, France and Israel supplied arms as well as military training to this dictator, which Mobutu used over the years to run war games against neighbour countries like Angola or supporting the former Hutu-regime in Rwanda. With the emergence of extremists within this Hutu-regime, backed by some Western countries, the world witnessed another human tragedy, with the genocide of hundred thousands of Tutsi and moderate Hutu populations in 1994. The Hutu-regime was thrown out and the Tutsi-led armed forces seized power. Some years later, in 1997, the regime of the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko also collapsed after the march of a new military alliance between Tutsi-led power and Congolese exiled resistance, an alliance which opened the to chaos, which has affected the region of Central Africa since. From then, many different African countries formed military alliances in the struggle for the DRCongo, a country at a permanent risk of partition, with the president of Rwanda acting now as a frontman of the external powers from Western and Eastern countries.

Among all military alliances set up in the last two-three decades in Africa, AFRICOM(US Africa Command) is the largest one, and includes Special Operations, covert drone attacks and "Security Cooperation Programs", as well as close partnership with the majority of countries in the continent. Founded on 2007 by the US President George W. Bush, AFRICOM claims to play a geo-strategic role to promote security as well as to be in charge of 53 African countries, except Egypt, which has a special military partnership with the USA since more than three decades. With Headquarter located in Germany, city of Stuttgart-Moehringen, Africom set up different subordinate military commands operating from several cities, namely the "US Army Africa" from Böblingen, Ramstein (both in Germany) and from Vicenza (Italy). It's very important to mention that Germany and Italy are playing a key role in many US special operations and covert wars in Africa. AIn 2011, from its subordinate Command in Vicenza (Italy), Africom took the lead of military actions by a coalition between France and UK against the dictator Muammar al-Kaddhafi in Libya, who later was brutally killed, with the Germany's secret service supplying a support to its Western allies.

At the the French military "Camp Lemonier", in Djibouti, East Africa, the US Command Africom set up its biggest military base in the black continent, from where the US Army Africa runs all special operations and supplies its forces on the war against terrorism over Somalia and Jemen as well as the Indian Ocean. In addition, Africom maintains strong alliances with following countries with small military bases in Niamey (Niger) supporting French and German troops in Mali, in Ethiopia (Arba Minch) for Drones actions over Somalia, Seychelles (Victoria) for Drones war over East Africa, and in Uganda (Entebbe) for Drones and special operations in South Sudan, Central Africa Republic (CAR) and Eastern Region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The US-Uganda military partnership enabled also the USA to set up its NSA-Centre as well as a small unit of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), operating from this African country through the continent.

Beyong this, there are many other military alliances. But it makes sense to focus only on some of it. Most of these alliances base upon supplying arms or war equipments and manufacturing plants for the local production of small arms & ammunitions, permanent military trainings and warfare know-how while some others of these external powers are boosting their economies through arms and drug trafficking in Africa.

Jan van Criekinge and Emanuel Matondo

Add new comment

Enter the characters shown in the image.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

We have had a kind offer from an individual donor, who will match up to £5,000 of donations from others - so by supporting War Resisters' International today your donation is worth double!