American Pentagon's plans to create a military command based in
Africa to expand US security interests have met with disapproval from
governments in the region, reluctant to associate themselves with
its "war on terror".
The controversial military command plan, dubbed Africom, said
to "help" local forces fight piracy and other criminal activity in
the west African region, is however, already underway in the Republic
Libya and Algeria told a US delegation led by Ryan Henry, principal
deputy under-secretary of defence for policy visiting the region that
they would play no part in hosting "Africom". Even Morocco, the US
closest north African ally, expressed misgivings. The U.S. military
say the idea is to shore up "fragile nations and prevent failed
states" from breeding radical groups, just like the Taliban grew in
Afghanistan in the 1990s.
The so-called security and social partnership to be replicated across
west Africa, is expected to officially commence in October and but
overseen from Stuttgart, Germany, where the U.S. military's
operations centre for Europe is situated. Theresa Whelan, U.S. deputy
assistant secretary of defence for African affairs, says U.S.
intervention under Africom would be in partnership with regional
actors and in "extraordinary circumstances after all other options
had been exhausted." However, analysts argue that the U.S. military
is only stepping up its activities in oil-producing countries of west
Africa - chiefly Angola, Nigeria, Gabon and the Republic of Congo -
to secure constant flow of oil to the United States. At present, west
Africa supplies about 15 percent of the U.S.'s oil imports, a share
that could rise to 25 per cent if aggression in the region can be
checked and investment in new oil finds continues uninterrupted.