Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 21, 2007

Understanding AFRICOM - Part II

Understanding AFRICOM:
A Contextual Reading of Empire's New Combatant Command

(This is part II of Understanding AFRICOM. You may want to start with reading part I. Published now is also part III. A PDF version of the complete series is available. Your comments on this are welcome here.)

by b real

West Africa

Prior to the announcement of AFRICOM, the remaining portion of Africa fell under the AOR of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM), with the exception being U.S. Pacific Command's responsibility for the island of Madagascar. It is in Western and Sub-Sahara Africa where the most active presence of U.S. forces is taking place. It is also, not surprisingly, where most of Africa's oil and natural gas resources are located. The Cheney report identified the six largest Sub-Saharan oil-producing African nations as the focus for U.S. attention in expanding reliable oil supplies - Nigeria, Angola, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Chad, and Equatorial Guinea. [18]

As Bellamy noted, the introduction to a 2005 Council on Foreign Relations document, "More Than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach Toward Africa", declared that "By the end of the decade sub-Saharan Africa is likely to become as important as a source of U.S. energy imports as the Middle East." The end of the decade, accordingly, is not very far into the future.

The authors of a recent report for the Center for International Policy, titled "Convergent Interests: U.S. Energy Security and the 'Securing' of Nigerian Democracy," elaborate:

U.S. military involvement in West Africa has only mushroomed since 2001, focusing on three broad goals: (i) getting U.S. forces on the ground in order to advise and upgrade the region's militaries in support of the GWOT; (ii) establishing maritime dominance in the Gulf in order to secure offshore oil installations and, if necessary, unilaterally defending American energy assets; and (iii) building or subcontracting access to new air and naval bases, to provide both forward supplies, surveillance and air cover capacities. As EUCOM's General Jones recently told the Wall Street Journal, "Africa plays an increased strategic role militarily, economically and politically..." for his command, which now spends "70 percent of its time and energy on Africa .. up from nearly none when he took it over three-plus years ago." [19]

EUCOM's AOR, prior to the AFRICOM announcement, consisted of 93 countries and territories, including all of Europe, most of Africa, Russia, three-quarters of Greenland, and Israel. Using the pretext of fighting terrorism, EUCOM has made significant steps toward planting a large boot print in West Africa. One of their first targets was the southern border of the world's largest desert, the Sahara, which GWOT strategists described as an ungoverned space (i.e. not measuring up to western ideas of governance), replete with smugglers, bandits, and 70 million Muslims who not only possibly harbored transnational terrorists, but were themselves susceptible to becoming "seeds" in the international network of terror, easily persuaded by outsiders into a jihad against the West.

Of course, there is also a capital-intensive oil infrastructure, including pipelines, in this 3,000-mile stretch of land - called the Sahel - that runs through Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and Chad, on into Sudan.

Some Africa specialists complain that since 9-11 the United States has wrongfully collapsed the Sahel's manifold problems into an all-too-simple issue: hunting bad guys. "We are exaggerating the whole terrorism thing," said Robert Pringle, a former ambassador to Mali. ... Similar views can be found in Washington, where a number of people said that the European Command had a bureaucratic imperative to cast militant Islam in the region as an impending danger. A retired CIA specialist in counterterrorism told me that European Command had its "nose out of joint" because the main theaters of the war on terrorism fell under Central Command, the division responsible for American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. A former U.S. diplomat who worked closely with the Defense Department said, "I mean, for European Command, when they tore down the Berlin Wall, a lot of their missions evaporated -- so it's a matter of having resources [allocated by Congress] and then trying to find missions to justify them." A State Department official familiar with the military's Saharan strategy called it "a hammer looking for a nail." [20]

Undoubtedly, EUCOM has benefited under a renewed sense of purpose, reversing earlier cuts in both personnel and financing after the crimson specters of the Cold War reanimated in traditional Islamic garb for the GWOT. Actual proof of transnational terrorist networks and international financing in Africa, however, has not been delivered, and specialists have debunked many of the perceptions advanced in the GWOT. In addition to the observation that "[t]here is little evidence of a significant terrorist threat in the West African countries visited," the SFRC team reported to the Senate committee that U.S. embassy officials also downplayed the GWOT dangers.

Section 1206 funding is supporting both the Gulf of Guinea initiative in West Africa and the Trans Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership. In neither case did embassy officials in countries visited see Section 1206 funding as addressing an emergency. Rather, it is seen as a new source of money for long-desired components in a military relationship. Old wish lists were dusted off and used to justify submitting a request for Section 1206 funding.[21]

If an organized, non-state international terrorist structure actually even exists, it has little chance, and no luck so far, penetrating and organizing clan and tribal societies in Africa. Much of the "terrorist" rhetoric amply demonstrates the biases and ignorance of the strategists and promoters. [22]

After 911, the U.S. Special Forces programs operating in a multitude of African nations switched from a narrative centered on building peacekeeping capabilities to that of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency training. Throughout the continent, U.S. forces worked with militaries such as those in Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Congos, Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In some cases, SOF has worked alongside the militaries it trains, engaging in battle with "terrorist" outfits, as it did in 2004 in the Sahel helping the Algerian government eliminate opposition forces. [23]

As Daniel Volman wrote, DoD's focus in these countries is on "efforts to strengthen the security the security forces of oil-producing countries and enhance their ability to ensure that their oil continues to flow to the United States."

It is doing this through three main channels. The first of these is the sale of arms to African governments through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program and the Commercial Sales program. The second is the provision of military training and education programs both in Africa and in the United States for African troops and officers through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, the African Contingency Operations Training Assistance (ACOTA) program (the successor to the African Crisis Response Initiative program created by the Clinton Administration in 1997), and the African Regional Peacekeeping Program. Finally, the Pentagon is conducting joint military exercises with military forces throughout the continent in order to train local forces and to enhance the ability of U.S. forces to engage in military operations in Africa. [24]

Volman also points out that "these programs are intended to bolster the capacity of African military forces to protect oil production and transportation facilities from any conflict that might disrupt oil shipments." Not surprisingly, "In the case of all sub-Saharan recipients, the U.S. government waives the repayment of these loans." [25]

Overt military funding from the United States for these programs comes mainly through two main channels, the 150 Foreign Affairs accounted, controlled by the State Department, and Section 1206 Security Assistance, under the control of the Defense Department. The former covers the basic programs, like foreign military financing (FMF), IMET, and the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). In the past year, as the DoD has taken a leading role in setting U.S. policies, the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act has broadened the powers of the Secretary of Defense to authorize and allocate funds for special security programs, bypassing the oversight of the Secretary of State and the need for Presidential direction. Under the umbrella of the GWOT, these programs focus on training and equipping military and police forces, building up maritime security, securing borders, and countering resistance movements.

The SFRC report states that

Overall in fiscal year 2006, $200 million in funding was appropriated. Only $100 million of that amount has been obligated, an indication that the initially claimed urgency for the funding was questionable. In the 2007 budget, $300 million has been authorized for Section 1206 funding and a request of $750 million is expected for 2008. [26]

There are multiple objectives going on the various locations, with not all necessarily following the GWOT narrative. Integration of U.S. access into these nations through their military is one aspect, providing channels for influence and gathering intelligence. There is also an attempt to network communication between the militaries of various nations, providing for regional response of armed forces, orchestrated accordingly with U.S. objectives. And some forces receive training for specific purposes, such as guarding pipelines and hydrocarbon production facilities, and for covert missions. As one influential and well-connected lobby group, Securing America's Energy Future, pointed out in a recent publication, "EUCOM soldiers are training locals to guard the Baku-Tbilsi-Ceyhan pipeline and working to curb corruption and improve the security of facilities in West Africa." [27]

In addition to the military front, advances are being made on the civil side too. That same 2004 CRS Report for Congress stated that "[t]he most frequently deployed SOF assets are civil affairs (CA) units, which provide experts in every area of civil government to help administer civilian affairs in the theater." [28] Special Forces have also greatly expanded their propaganda operations, which are now considered an integral part of population control. Psyops teams consisting of 3-4 individuals now operate out of at least 18 embassies around the world, with plans for more on the way.

While the motives of the many different individuals involved in the humanitarian and civil capacity-building (nation-building, in this regard) efforts should not be necessarily suspect, from a broader perspective many of these programs can be recognized as a means of altruistic cover, defusing public opposition by masking neo-colonial imperialism with talk of "helping Africans help themselves."[29] But it is the military actions that belie such rhetoric of "democracy-building" and of helping to set Africa on the "path of political and economic freedom."

In West Africa, the U.S. military's European Command has now established forward-operating locations in Senegal, Mali, Ghana, and Gabon -- as well as Namibia, bordering Angola on the south -- involving the upgrading of airfields, the pre-positioning of critical supplies and fuel, and access agreements for swift deployment of U.S. troops. ... [It] is developing a coastal security system in the Gulf of Guinea called the Gulf of Guinea Guard. It has also been planning the construction of a U.S. naval base in Sao Tome and Principe, which the European Command has intimated could rival the U.S. naval base as Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The Pentagon is thus moving aggressively to establish a military presence in the Gulf of Guinea that will allow it to control the western part of the broad trans-Africa oil strip and the vital oil reserves now being discovered there. [30]

Nigeria, the Niger Delta, and the Gulf of Guinea

As the authors of the Convergent Interest report warn,

EUCOM's main strategic objective focuses on securing Nigerian and Gulf energy supplies To achieve this strategic goal, American military planners have launched a two-pronged pincher movement whose main objective is "Ring-Fencing Nigeria" from the north and south. To the South, the Navy is rapidly increasing their patrols in the oil fields of the Gulf of Guinea, bolstered by U.S. funding of an $800,000 port and airfield feasibility study of STP [the island state of Sao Tome and Principe]. To the north, American troops funded by the TSCTI [the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative] are being deployed in training and advising missions designed to monitor and, if necessary, seal Nigeria's northern border. An intensive search is on for any evidence linking northern Nigerians with international Islamist terrorism. A Reuter's story describing the TSCTI as a "ring fencing" strategy reports that "privately, some (American) officials acknowledge that the main concern in the region is protecting Nigeria, the continent's biggest oil producer...." [31]

Nigeria is the most populous African nation with more than 131 million citizens -- one-fifth of the total population. There are perhaps 300 different ethnic groups in Nigeria, distributed across a patchwork of states and territories. The Northern states contain some 50-60 million Muslims, largely members of the Hausa and Fulani, who have become very familiar with the preconceptions of EUCOM and the war on terror. Though Nigeria is officially a secular nation, twelve northern states have adopted the framework of Shari'ah, Islamic law, for their legal and ethical codes. While the northern half of the country is majority Sunni Muslim, the rest of Nigeria is mostly composed of a mixture of Christian Independents and those retaining traditional, indigenous beliefs.

Near the center of the country sits the federal government in the capitol of Abuja. The West and East each share their own differences. And to the south lay a jigsaw pattern of states, carved out of one of the largest deltas on the planet by the Niger River, West Africa's largest, as it empties into the Gulf of Guinea over an area covering nearly 75,000 square miles. Earlier the center of a large colonial palm oil industry, the Niger Delta, containing some 30 million indigenous residents, these days still finds itself occupied by foreigners in a situation little changed from that of the pre-independence era. In fact, it's probably worse.

After gaining independence from British colonialists on New Year's 1960, Nigeria has literally been in turmoil. A civil war lasting from 1967 to 1970 claimed an estimated three million lives. And nine military coups between 1966 and the installation of the notoriously corrupt Sani Abacha in 1993 have forced the citizens to endure seemingly perpetual military rule (over thirty years, post-independence), which overtly ended with Abacha's death five years later. However, before turning over the government to civilian rule, the military wrote a new constitution in 1999, forcing it upon the peoples of this diverse country, and which, to this day, remains widely despised and a source of ongoing conflict. [32]

The current President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who actually ruled the country from 1976-1979 and was later imprisoned in 1995 for plotting a coup against Abacha, has hardly been a benefit for the nation. Holding the presidency for two terms through blatant election fraud, he has failed to respond in the face of public pressure to change the constitution so as to bring about a more just representation for the numerous states and diverse ethnic groups living within the imposed national boundaries left by the colonizers. Not that changing the constitution was completely out of the question for Obasanjo - he only recently conceded defeat amidst international condemnation for his expressed desires to amend the constitution just enough to extend his presidency for a third term, justified as critical, of course, in order to prevent the government from falling into the hands of the more corrupt.

Yet Obasanjo has resisted calls for moving the country forward toward a true democracy, one that recognizes the self-determination of all its peoples. And shares the wealth. The living standards for most Nigerians are not much better than they were since that New Year's Day nearly fifty years ago. It is estimated that 70 percent of Nigerians - some 90 million people -- live on less than one USD per day despite the wealth and revenues being generated by its petroeconomy (the country has been a member nation of OPEC since the early 1970s). Nigeria appears regularly near the top of international corruption indices. Barrels of oil mysteriously vanish. Funds disappear. Lies are told. Bribes are the norm. [33]

With elections scheduled for April of this year, the presidency will change and, though it is not guaranteed to be fair or free -- nor blood-free, at that -- it will stand as an important event in determining the immediate fate of Nigeria and her people. Given the current global focus on the West African nation, much is at stake. One of the candidates is the retired General Muhammadu Buhari, who served as head of state from 1983 - 1985 (fifth coup) and, before that, as the Minister of Petroleum, though there has been vocal opposition to his candidacy, including that from the one of Nigeria's most famous sons, Wole Soyinka, who stirred up heated public debate with a speech raking Buhari across the coals for exemplifying the antithesis of democracy and justice.

Buhari, in his earlier authoritarian rule, had centralized much of the power in Nigeria, especially sticking it to the states in the Delta, dropping their share of Nigeria's oil rent revenues over a period of two years from 20 to 1.5 percent. But then Obasanjo himself, during his rule in the 1970s, had laid the ground for Buhari by seizing lands and granting the oil majors rights to exploit the Niger Delta and, hence, its people, further undermining their abilities for representation and retaining control over their own lives. [34]

Nigeria is a complex country of many different peoples, struggles, and conflict. It is also a country that contains a lot of oil and natural gas.

Few Americans realize the scale and significance of Nigerian oil and gas production centered in the Delta and how this complex impacts American energy security. Since the start of commercial oil production in 1956, oil majors have operated with relative impunity in the Delta. Most oil is lifted onshore, from about 250 fields dotted across the Delta, but Nigeria's total oil sector now represents a much larger domestic industrial infrastructure with more than six hundred oil fields, 5,284 on- and off-shore wells, 7,000 kilometers of pipelines, ten export terminals, 275 flow stations, ten gas plants, four refineries (Warri, Port Harcourt I and II, and Kaduna), and massive LNG [liquefied natural gas] projects (in Bonny and Brass)
Oil from the Gulf of Guinea is especially attractive for American consumers because it has a transport advantage to oil terminals on the east coast of the U.S. and a low-sulfur, lightweight content that fetches a premium for gasoline production.
Currently, [Nigeria's] proven oil reserves are estimated at 40 billion barrels, but new offshore discoveries will raise reserves significantly. Most of this oil derives from onshore fields in the Niger Delta, but offshore discoveries like the Bonga fields are rapidly changing this picture. Depending on the future price of oil, and internal security in Nigeria, annual production could rise from 2.5 million bbl per day in 2005 to as much as 5 million bbl per day in 2020.
Today, Nigeria accounts for over 60 percent of the Gulf of Guinea's oil wealth. Its output makes Nigeria the eleventh largest oil producer in the world. It also contains the largest natural gas reserves in Africa (176 trillion cubic feet) and now possesses a large-scale LNG complex (e.g. five train lines) on Bonny Island with more plants planned. According to the IMF, in 2005 oil revenues accounted for 99 percent of all Nigerian export revenues, 88 percent of government income, and 50 percent of Nigerian GDP, amounting to over $50 billion. Based on an oil price of $50/barrel, between 2006 and 2020 Nigeria alone could pocket more than $750 billion in oil income; the whole of West Africa, more than $1 trillion. For Africa, these are colossal numbers. Tight and volatile markets, coupled with short-term upward price pressures, suggest there is every reason to assume that these estimates of Nigeria's and the region's future oil wealth are quite conservative. [35]

And the conservatives in the U.S. are very much aware of that.

...President Bush has extended the reach of the Carter Doctrine to West Africa, now one of America's major sources of oil. Particular emphasis is being placed on Nigeria, where unrest in the Delta (which holds most of the country's onshore petroleum fields) has produced a substantial decline in oil output. "Nigeria is the fifth largest source of U.S. oil imports," the State Dept's Fiscal Year 2007 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations declares, "and disruption of supply from Nigeria would represent a major blow to U.S. oil security strategy." To prevent such a disruption, the Department of Defense is providing Nigerian military and internal security forces with substantial arms and equipment intended to quell unrest in the Delta region; the Pentagon is also collaborating with Nigerian forces in a number of regional patrol and surveillance efforts aimed at improving security in the Gulf of Guinea, where most of West Africa's offshore oil and gas fields are located.
Especially revealing is a November 2006 task force report from the Council on Foreign Relations on "National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency." Co-chaired by former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger and former CIA Director John Deutsch, and endorsed by a slew of elite policy wonks from both parties, the report ... struck just the militaristic note first voiced in the 2000 CSIS report (which Schlesinger also co-chaired): "Several standard operations of U.S. regionally deployed forces [presumably CENTCOM and PACOM] have made important contributions to improving energy security, and the continuation of such efforts will be necessary in the future. U.S. naval protection of the sea-lanes that transport oil is of paramount importance." The report also called for stepped up U.S. naval engagement in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Nigeria. [36]

Looking at the Niger Delta on a satellite map [37], probably the first thing to catch the eye is the spidery plethora of rivers and creeks weaving across the terrain. It's an area of great ecological significance, the kidneys, quite literally, of West Africa. The mangrove forests here are the third largest of its kind on the planet, and the extent of the ecological value is known only to the locals, as the majority of scientific surveys of the Niger Delta have been done strictly for economic reasons. If you zoom in on the Delta area you will soon start seeing gas flares, the most visible sign of the results of that research. The landscape is dotted with oil and natural gas wells and the production facilities required to contain and transport these fossil fuels to foreign lands, and gas flaring here has long been a problem.

In their efforts to get to the oil underneath, the extraction industries have typically burned off the gas reserves that have collected on the top of these deposits, allowing large gas flares to burn for years, adding toxins into the atmosphere which then return to poison the lands and those living there. It is said that "some children have never known a dark night even though they have no electricity." [38] Despite sitting on top of all these natural oil and natural gas deposits, the ethnic groups living in the Delta region have benefited minimally from its extraction. Actually, considering the environmental damage and pollution that this extraction brings, in addition to the de facto rule of the oil companies that comes with it, the people of the Delta are heavily penalized for it. [39]

Organized indigenous resistance to federal centralization, the usurpation of their local rights and resources without fair compensation, and the destruction of their landbase has picked up steam in the last two decades. Environmental and human rights activists have, for years, documented atrocities on the part of oil companies and the military in this region. Oil companies have generally been able to operate with impunity, refusing to compensate local residents for the environmental damage and medical ailments resulting from the rush to turn oil into money.[40]  Some companies have turned to paying and even arming mercenaries to discourage or eliminate those who oppose their presence. [41]

New, increasingly militant, movements have evolved out of the decades of fruitless efforts to seek self-determination and compensation from the federal government and the oil companies that it essentially gave free rein to. The information revolution has allowed a new means for sharing ideas, organizing, and drawing attention to their struggles.

An increasing proliferation of arms traffic combined with strong market prices fetched for bunkered oil - that is, tapped from the oil companies without their authorization - and healthy ransoms paid for the release of kidnapped oil workers, has resulted in the increase of productive campaigns of sabotage and acts of armed resistance. With their lives and those of their families being devalued in favor of five-dollar barrels of oil, tactics for many have shifted from petition and protest to more proactive measures. Attacks on pipelines and oil facilities have curtailed the flow of oil leaving the region. As the Convergent Interests report puts it, "Within the first six months of 2006, there were nineteen attacks on foreign oil operations and over $2.187 billion lost in oil revenues; the Department of Petroleum Resources claims this figure represents 32 percent of 'the revenue the country generated this year.'" [42]

Much has been made of the attempts to link these resistance groups into the GWOT, especially on the part of the oil companies, in order to use the power of the U.S. military to stabilize these areas and secure the energy flows. Perhaps the most visible group in the Western media right now are members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), largely portrayed as a fierce group of masked, painted warriors either dancing around waving AK-47s in the air, or cruising through the creeks that traverse the delta in their motorboats, again, waving AK-47s in the air. That's when they're not kidnapping someone, taking out a pipeline, or "stealing" oil.

However, as usual, the media tends to omit a lot of context and many facts in their attempts to sensationalize or shape the perceptions of their audiences. Efforts to link MEND and the other attacks against the oil majors to Islamist organizations continue to get perpetuated in the West. Yet solid evidence for these claims is always lacking. Simply put, the situation in the Niger Delta is that of ethnic-nationalist movements fighting by any means necessary for the "political objective of advancing the cause of self-determination and equitable sharing of oil-receipts." It has nothing to do with international terror networks or jihadists. [43]

The volatility surrounding oil installations in Nigeria, and elsewhere in the continent, is used by the U.S. security establishment to justify foreign (and domestic) military presence in African oil producing states while contributing to the oil industry's windfall profits. Yet the depth of resentments, and the military capabilities of insurgent groups armed in large measure through oil theft suggests that the oil companies' operations - what they call their social license to operate - may be in question. [44]

Which then becomes a matter of U.S. national security.

Charles Dragonette, a senior maritime analyst at the U.S. Office of Naval Research, revealed to participants at a March [2006] conference in Fort Lauderdale: "Shell led a group of oil companies in an approach to the U.S. military for protection of their facilities in the Delta," and warned that "Nigeria may have lost the ability to control the situation."
Additional evidence confirming the increasing deployment of American naval power to secure Gulf of Guinea energy supplies appeared at a press conference during the May 2006 African Sea Power Conference in Abuja. Responding to Nigerian journalists' questions about reports of American naval patrols at Shell's Bonga oil field, Admiral Harry Ulrich, EUCOM's Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, frankly acknowledge that American ships were patrolling Nigerian oil fields within the 200 mile limit. "We are concerned for Nigeria and we want to help her protect the region from the hands of the maritime criminal. In all parts of the world, the U.S. and any good nation want a safe coast for countries who are supplying their energy and that is why we are often there. So there is nothing to fear for Nigeria." Ulrich's reassuring admission that the U.S. Navy is "often there" protecting Shell's Bonga oil field is a revealing confirmation of EUCOM's mission creep: it is an especially interesting admission given Dragonette's reported comments about Shell's security request. Developed by Shell, not only is Bonga Nigeria's largest oil field, costing $3.6 billion to develop and potentially producing 225,000 bbl per day (10 percent of Nigeria's production) and 150 million cubic feet/day of natural gas, it also lies squarely within Nigeria's territorial waters at 75 miles offshore. [45]

With AFRICOM will come an expansion of military forces into region, and that will have many effects on the people of the Niger Delta and the nations bordering the Gulf of Guinea. The increased naval presence will coordinate frequently with other branches of the armed forces in an attempt to guarantee the flow of oil back to the United States. This will likely include the sponsorship of U.S.-friendly governments, intensified military training programs and arms/hardware packages, and an active engagement in combating insurgents and saboteurs. Among the items that stood out in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report (QDR) [46] were several mentions of building riverine capabilities to combat asymmetrical warfare.

"Riverine warfare capabilities to improve the ability of U.S. forces to work with the security forces of partner countries to deny terrorist groups the use of waterways" (p.24)
"Provide a Navy riverine capability for river patrol, interdiction and tactical troop movement on inland waterways." (p. 48)
"...specialized naval forces configured for coastal and riverine operations further complement irregular warfare capability." (A-4)

Currently, one of the strengths of indigenous movements in their targeted attacks is a deep knowledge of the terrain and how to use the creeks and cover to their advantage in order to elude military and security forces usually from outside of the area. AFRICOM will be working on multiple ways to close that gap.

As Ike Okonta reported in a working paper on the Delta, "On August 28 [2006] Nigerian and American officials in Abuja announced a new Nigeria-United States Gulf of Guinea Energy Security Initiative aimed at 'securing' $600 billion of new investments in oil fields in the region." He also explained that local journalists and activists have "expressed fears that the new ring of steel being put in place in their region by the U.S. navy is an underhand attempt to militarise the region and encourage attacks on oil facilities by armed militias and then use this as a justification for military occupation of the Gulf of Guinea." [47]

Watching the devastation that the U.S. has laid to Iraq in pursuit of securing, privatizing, and controlling that country's global energy supplies can hardly escape the notice of the peoples living in what has been referred to by some in the West as "the new Persian Gulf".

Go to part III.
A PDF version of the complete series is available.
Your comments on this are welcome here.


18. Daniel Volman, "The Bush Administration and African Oil: The Security Implications of U.S. Energy Policy," African Security Research Project, ACAS Bulletin, No. 66, Winter 2003/2004, pp.15-25, available at [link] ; also see Daniel Volman, "The Scramble for African Oil,", May 25, 2006, [link]
19. Paul M. Lubeck, Michael J. Watts and Ronnie Lipschutz, "Convergent Interests: U.S. Energy Security and the "Securing" of Nigerian Democracy," Center for International Policy Report, February 2007, [link]
20. Khatchadourian
21. "Embassies As Command Posts in the Anti-Terror Campaign," p.14
22. On terrorist financing see, for instance, R.T. Naylor, Satanic Purses: Money, Myth, and Misinformation in the War on Terror, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006. On terrorist threats in Africa see Jessica R. Piombo, "Terrorism and U.S. Counter-Terrorism Programs in Africa: An Overview," Strategic Insights, Volume VI, Issue 1 (January 2007), [link]
23. Khatchadourian
24. Volman, "The Bush Administration and African Oil"
25. Volman, "U.S. Military Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2005-2007"; also see William D. Hartung and Frida Berrigan, "Militarization of U.S. Africa Policy, 2000 to 2005," Arms Trade Resource Center, World Policy Institute, [link]
26. "Embassies As Command Posts in the Anti-Terror Campaign," p.8
27. Oil Dependance: A Threat to U.S. Economic and National Security, Securing America's Future Energy,[link]
28. CRS Report for Congress, Sept 28, 2004
29. One will also come across occasional relapses into the Euro-Imperial "White Man's Burden" syndrome, as evidenced in the conclusion to one recent Strategic Insights article: "Over the past years, Africans have been undertaking impressive initiatives to resolve their continent's manifold perils, but without such an increased U.S. commitment these initiatives will fail and so too will many of the U.S. hopes and objectives for the continent."  Benedikt Franke, "Enabling a Continent to Help Itself: U.S. Military Capacity Building and Africa's Emerging Security Architecture," Strategic Insights, Volume VI, Issue 1 (January 2007), [link]
30. Foster
31. Lubeck, Watts and Lipschutz
32. For an engaging memoir intertwined in the history of post-colonial Nigeria, see Wole Soyinka's "You Must Set Forth at Dawn," Random House, 2006
33.  See, for instance, Halliburton and Nigeria: Bribing Nigeria, Halliburton Watch, [link]
34. See Oronto Douglas, Van Kemedi, Ike Okonta, and Michael Watts, "Alienation and Militancy in the Niger Delta: A Response to CSIS on Petroleum, Politics, and Democracy in Nigeria," Foreign Policy In Focus, July 2003, [link]; Michael J. Watts, "Petro-Violence: Some Thoughts on Community, Extraction, and Political Ecology," Berkeley Workshop on Environmental Politics WP 99-1, September 1998, [link]; Ike Okonta, "Behind The Mask: Explaining the Emergence of the MEND Militia in Nigeria's Oil-Bearing Niger Delta," Niger Delta Economies of Violence Working Paper No. 11, Institute of International Studies, The United States Institute of Peace, Our Niger Delta
35. Lubeck, Watts and Lipschutz
36. Klare, "The Global Energy Race and Its Consequences"
37. For example, [google map link]
38. Watts, "Petro-Violence"
39. See, for instance, "Oil Spill Displaces 10 Ijaw Communities," Emma Arubi, Vanguard (Lagos) February 13th, 2007, [link]

CHEVRON'S Abiteye flow station oil spill of over 1,500 barrels of crude has rendered over 10 Ijaw communities and 500 hundred persons homeless in Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West local government area of Delta State.
The incident has led to anger and fresh threats to the peace and security in the areas, as the communities accused Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) of employing 'divide-and-rule' tactics in dealing with the problems arising from the spill.
The councilor representing Benikrukru Ward in the council area, Mr. Gbabor Okrika, told Vanguard that the spill devastated over 10 communities and affected sources of drinking water and rendered homes of victims inhabitable.

40. For example, Shell has refused to pay a $1.5 billion judgment awarded to the Ijaw after a court ruling last summer; "Shell to Pay Nigeria $1.5bn to the Ijaw people," African Echo, July 20th, 2006, [link] ; United Ijaw States, [link]
41. For instance, see "Chevron Paid Troops After Alleged Killing," David R. Baker, CorpWatch, August 4th, 2005, [link]
42. Lubeck, Watts and Lipschutz
43. See Okonta, "Behind The Mask"; Michael Watts, "Crisis in Nigeria: Oil Inferno," Counterpunch, January 2, 2007, [link] ; Wole Soyinka, interview with DemocracyNow, April 19, 2006, [link] ; Piombo; Lubeck, Watts and Lipschutz
44. Anna Zalik and Michael Watts, "Imperial Oil: Petroleum Politics in the Nigerian Delta and the New Scramble for Africa," Socialist Review, April 2006, [link]
45. Lubeck, Watts and Lipschutz
46. 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report, [link]
47. Okonta, "Behind The Mask"

Posted by b on February 21, 2007 at 23:10 UTC | Permalink


Very illuminating, thanks.

I have been trying to keep track of MENDs attacks on oil companies. It is a bit hard, Africa is not all that reported, but with a bit of guesswork and googling I would say they are keeping up the campaign but not seriously detering any of the oil companies.

Would you say there is a serious threath against the oil companies in the Niger delta?

More generally:

Is the US moving in to the gulf of Guinea because it wants more direct control or because local friendly dictators are loosing to less US-friendly forces?

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Feb 22 2007 4:25 utc | 1

I got b real's tab tonight barkeep, excellent work!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 22 2007 7:48 utc | 2

Further comments on this are welcome in the concluding part III thread.

Posted by: b | Feb 22 2007 12:59 utc | 3

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