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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 10:02, February 22, 2006
U.S. steps up military infiltration into Africa
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U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has recently wound up his three-day North Africa tour, to Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, with anti-terrorism top on the agenda. The visit, the first by Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary, aroused great attention from world media.

Rumsfeld and leaders of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria talked about military and security cooperation under the banner of anti-terrorism. After the 9/11 incident, fearing that terrorists might use Africa to expand their networks and bases, the United States has strengthened its anti-terrorism cooperation with Africa.

In 2002, then U.S. Secretary of State Collin Powell visited Gabon and Angola. In 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush visited five African countries including Senegal, South Africa and Nigeria and promised to spend 100 million U.S. dollars to help East Africa and the Horn of African countries (including Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Uganda and Tanzania) to improve their anti-terrorism capacity.

In 2004, U.S. European deputy commander General Charles F. Wald visited 10 African countries and then the U.S. side invited senior African army officers to European command to discuss military cooperation. In the same year, the United States also participated in the anti-terrorism joint military maneuver with Algeria, Mali, Chad and Niger. In July 2005, 300 U.S. troops held a two-week major joint military exercise with eight African countries including Morocco, Mali and Tunisia.

Behind these anti-terrorism cooperation, the main purpose of Rumsfeld's visit is to restructure U.S. armies' global strategic deployment and relocate military bases. In recent years, to adapt the changing international strategic environment and effectively deal with terrorist threat, the United States has begun to shift its strategic emphasis to the so-called "arch of instability" ranging from the coastal Caribbean, North Africa, Caucasia, Central Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia and to the Korean Peninsula. The three North African countries Rumsfeld visited are in the western end of the arch. According to the Pentagon plan, the United States will create 10 small frontier battle facilities with fast reaction capability.

Oil security is another purpose of the U.S. military expansion in Africa.

Currently, oil supply from Africa accounts for 20 percent of U.S. total imports and the percentage is predicted to be 25 percent by 2015, exceeding that from the Persian Gulf region. Relevant documents from the U.S. government have treated oil supply from Africa as important as concerning U.S. national security.

To ensure the oil supply, the U.S. government has taken many measures of infiltration such as selling weapons to oil producing countries including Nigeria, Angola and Algeria, conducting joint military maneuvers, providing military training and establishing military bases in Africa. In 2002, the U.S. government reached an agreement with Sao Tome and Principe on building a navy base.

U.S. military presence in Africa has two obvious tendencies: one is to deepen military cooperation in North Africa and the Horn of Africa for anti-terrorism purpose; and the other is to cooperate with West Africa for oil security. From strategic perspective, Washington's Africa policy has combined anti-terrorism, oil and garrisoning.

The article on the third page of People's Daily, Feb. 21, is authored by He Wenping, director of Africa department of Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and translated by People's Daily Online

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