We have seen in recent years a renewed interest in Africa by the West. The continent once labelled the Dark and Hopeless continent a decade ago is now ground zero for the struggle between the West, led by France and the United States, and China for influence.
While China expands its influence in Africa through infrastructural projects and loans, the U.S and France has blanketed Africa with forward positioning of supplies, ammunition and equipments, command and control communication bases, drones, and of recent, $100 milliom Reaper (attack) drone bases along Nigeria’s periphery.
But what is behind this new scramble for power influence and power in Africa?
As China’s economic, militay and diplomatic clout soars, the U.S led Western empire has sought to challenge, or at the very least slow down China’s rise. After a decade of involvement in the Middle East, America’s new pivot to Asia policy calls for the encirclement and containmeht of China.
With the emcirclement of China more or less complete, the West is now provoking and goading China in the South China Sea, and clearly transiting from encirclement to outright containment. The Americans do not bluff, they will challenge China’s rise and China knows this.
In recent years China has become Africa’s biggest source of FDI (foreign direct investment ). A whooping %70 of Africa’s infrastructural project is finance by Chinese banks. China now rivals Russia as the biggest supplier of arms to Africa.
As China makes inroads in the “Dark and Hopeless Continent”, the U.S has followed. Having spread their spider web of military installations and all that goes with them across Africa, they ‘re moving to the next phase -aimed at directly containing Chinese influence in Africa across all spectrum.
We are witnessing a major thrust by the Franco American empire to expand they influence in West Africa by unseating Nigeria as the dominant player and guarantor or economic and military stability in the region. The Nigerian state seems to have no semblance of a coherent response to these startling developments.
In the diplomatic scene, the position of Nigeria as the preponderant power in West Africa for over three decades is under serious threat. Morocco’s bid, a north african country to join ECOWAS was recently accepted in principle by ECOWAS Parliament. Just recently Tunisia has signified its interest in joining ECOWAS.
But no where is the threat to Nigeria’s position as the regional hegemon more visible than in the military spectrum. The plan for the conquest of the Sahel down to West Africa started under the Obama and Sarkozi administration.
Under the pretext of saving the Libyan people from the tyrannical steel claws of Muammar Ghadaffi, NATO, led by France destroyed the Gadhaffi regime by air and delibrately left a power vacum.
Oddly enough NATO knew the exact locations of Libya’s vast armoury,but no effort was made to secure the hundreds of thousands of tons of weapons Ghadaffi had stockpiled for decades. Under the watchful eyes of NATO air power and reconnaisance assets, the Libyan armoury was plundered by various factions of radical Islamist.
Libyan Arms bazaar
The West stood by and watched as thousand of weapons looted and stolen from Ghadaffis armoury found their way South to West Africa and the Sahel. One rebel faction in 2013 prided itself as being the first terrorist group with a dedicated Air Force when they secured four Libyan MiG-21 fighter jets.
No surprise, two years after the destruction of Libya, West Africa went up in flames. Half of Mali was lost to Tuaregs Islamists. Nigeria, already embroiled in its struggle against the Boko Haram insurgents found itself unable to carry out its statutory role as the guarantor of leading a regional force to uproot the rebels who now occupied all of northern Mali, thereby necessitating the intervention of France and Chad.
In Nigeria Boko Haram controlled an area the size of Belgium, encompassing 17 local governments, announced the creation of a Caliphate and called 2.7 million Nigerians its own.
As at 2014 France had 3,000 troops in Mali and had two complete Squadrons of Mirage 2000 fighter jets in Chad.
Almost overnight the government of Cameroon went from being a repressive and autocratic state, with one man holding on to power for 32 years, to a strategic ally of the United States in West Africa in the battle against terrorism.
Paradoxically, Nigeria, the 4th largest democracy in the world and ground zero in the battle against Boko Haram was by and large alienated. America’s ally amd largest trading partner on the continent had suddenly become an “oppresive state” and gross human rights violator, necessitating the Obama administrations decision to stop planned weapons sale to Nigeria as well as blocking the sale of American made Viper attack helicopters from Israel to Nigeria.
In 2014, the DSS (Directorate of State Department) revealed that the United States had a secret drone base in Garoua that was opened mid October the previous year. A local agent had taken photos of construction sites at the new base- hangers tents and troops. Unfortunately the DSS had posted someone it on the internet. It was a strategic blunder of the highest order.
Benghazi Style Level of Secrecy.
To keep the construction of the site a secret, hundreds of Cameroonians were hired to work construction, cook and do launder for the American trooos who numbered 120 at the time and were Increasing with every incoming flight.
The Cameroonian workers, paid the equivalent of $10 a day, a generous salary by the standards of the average man in Cameroon have been given the impression that they can lose their jobs if they divulge any information about the activities on the base.
The American trooops were hunkered down, forbidden to fraternize with locals or visit Garoua’s bar’s and nightclubs.
In October 14, U.S President Barack Obama announced to Congress that America’s global war on Islamic terrorism had expanded to yet another front. The U.S was sending 500 troops to a new drone base inside Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria where Boko Haram is most active.
In his words :
These forces will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed. The troops would not be used for Combatm but to oversee intelligence gathering and surveillance.
He cleverly did not reveal reveal the exact location of the me facility, but Nigerian intelligence knew it was in Garoua, the site of the Cameroonian air force base.
Now let’s step back for a bit. Here was the United States, the oldest constitutional democracy in the world, that chastised Nigeria over its human rights records and abuses and blocked the sale of weapons to Nigeria, fraternizing with one of Africa’s most repressive regime whose leader has been in power for 33 years.
Garoua represents the newest expansion of the Franco-America’s secret agenda to encircle Nigeria. If there is one thing the United States have perfected, it would be the art of encirclement. In Europe they have Russia encircled. Same with China.
We already have American aircrafts and drones flying from bases in Djibouti – the center of U.S Drone operations in Africa. China in turn established its first overseas military outpost in Djibouti, the Americans in response deployed ships off the coast of East Africa.
Then in response to Obama’s decision to cripple Nigeria’s war effort China approved the sale of 5 CH-3 Rainbow attack drones to the Nigerian Air Force in a secret deal and delivered the first of 3 Stealth OPV’s (offshore patrol vessels) to the Nigerian Navy and signed a $500 million deal to launch an additional two Nigerian satellite into orbit in 2019 (later moved to 2021).
The United States responded by basing MQ-1 drones and their larger cousins, MQ-9 Reaper drones in Niamey in Niger Republic, N’Djamena in Chad and Seychelles International Airport.
In 2016, the U.S National Defense Authorization Act appropriated $100 million for the construction of an “Airfield and Base Camp at Agadez, Niger…to support operations in Western Africa.
Though not publicised, the Nigerian government protested the deployment of sophisticated military hardware and facilities along Nigeria’s pheripery.
The United States defended its position by saying AFRICOM was concerned about the state of intelligence gathering among the nation involved in the fight :
- Niger Republic
- Benin Republic
According to a Western diplomat :
When a detachment of Gray Eagle MQ-1C drones and their military team became freed up from other surveillance operations, AFRICOM looked for a vase in the heart of the combat zone. The U.S military already had a relationship with the Cameroon military (an autocracy) and was familiar with Garoua.
In early February, the base became fully operational, hosting a fleet of four Gray Eagle drones, and four Reaper Drone.
The eight drones, which can carry out surveillance missions in rotation 24 hours a day allows U.S intelligence to gather detailed information about “Boko Haram movements” or Nigeria’s military camps and infrastructure and share it with Chadian, Cameroonian and French troops spread across the Lake Chad basin, but not Nigerian troops.
These drone mission solidifies an alliance between an unsavoury African strongman: Cameroonian President Paul Biya, who has clung to power for 33 years, almost as long as Robert Mugagbe of Zimbabwe. Paul Biya is regarded as a corrupt remote and autocratic leader who in 2016 slaughtered hundreds of Anglo Cameroonians protesting the marginalization of English speaking Cameroonians.
A Human Rights Foundation report in 2014 stated that :
“Biya has built a system of corrupt and autocratic power, using the legal and justice system to imprison and bankrupt dissidents, opposition leaders, and journalists. … The secret police prowl university campuses, the army regularly patrols urban centers, and state permission is required for public assembly.”
Biya had reportedly amassed a personal fortune of more than $200 million — compared to the average Cameroonian income of $1,350 a year.
Americans Reaper drones deployed for surveillance are armed with Hellfire missiles. The MQ-1 drone is armed with Viper Strike bombs. Two drone pilots sitting in a control station no larger than a commercial sized van can theoretically bring the Nigerian government to its knees with a decapitating strike in vital infrastructure or the political leadership in itself.
With its remote killing capabilities the temptation to use drones to take out targets in a country without authorization is tempting. We have witnessed the carnage and collateral damages caused by U.S drone strikes in A-STAN and Pakistan.
One would think that the presence of such sophisticated hardware will act as a catalyst to propell the Nigerian military to invest heavily in air defense systems, or acquire modern interceptor jets to plug the gap.
The Nigerian government will be well advised not to assume Boko Haram has been totally defeated, in light of the capture of the Sambisa forest. Then United States spent a quarter of a billion dollars building two drone bases in 2016 alone. This should keep Abuja up at night.
The United States and France will need to justify maintaining a $300 million facility in a 3rd world country. A defeated Boko Haram therefore may not serve the interest of the United States and France in the region. It is not far fetched to speculate that Boko Haram might be ressurected, as has happened on numerous occasions.
The French and Russians have perfected the art of deception and false flag operations.
In 2013, Boko Haram fighters kidnapped a Yaoundé-based French oil executive, his wife, and their four children while they were vacationing in Waza National Park in the Extrême Nord region.
The French government reportedly paid a ransom of 11 million euros to secure their release. Over the next six months, Boko Haram abducted and ransomed a French priest, two Italian priests, a Canadian nun, and 10 Chinese highway engineers.
In one perfectly executed false flag operation, Boko Haram kidnapped the wife of a government minister (incredible) Francois Agnes Moukouri, in a raid on a Muslim festival in Kolofata, 10 miles from the border. The Cameroonian authorities paid Boko Haram $500,000 in ran some to secure the release of the Ministers wife. Incredible.