African Union (AU) must speak with one voice and not allow AFRICOM troops on its soil in order to protect their territorial integrity and sovereignty, writes researcher Mustafa B Mheta of the Media Review Network in Johannesburg.
An article appeared in the Daily Maverick on 18/09/2020 titled “Africom may be looking for a new home”. The article was penned by none other than Peter Fabricius. He begins his argument by asking the question “Given the large US military presence in Africa, could the continent benefit from having the command based locally?”
To begin with, I consider the question to be very irrelevant if not silly. There should be no debate when it comes to this question. The military of a country is there to protect the particular country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. They therefore should be stationed within that country’s borders. Period!
The US military (AFRICOM) has been on the continent since the presidency of George W. Bush. Obama came and expanded it. It was during the Obama’s presidency that it gained traction and grew tremendously. Under the guise of the war on terror, many African countries fell for the trick and allowed the US Army to be stationed in their countries. However, one notices a very strange pattern in the way the so-called insurgency arises. A careful examination of that shows that it always happens in highly resourced areas where you get gold, diamonds, oil and liquified natural gas (LNG). Why is it so? This question should raise the eye brows.
This whole issue of AFRICOM should be treated with a lot of suspicion on the continent. First, there is a lot of instability going on in those areas where AFRICOM is stationed. Why? Secondly, why should a foreign army be stationed in another sovereign country without invitation? This calls for the testing of the hypothesis that says WW2 did not end in 1945. Since 1945, all wars have been fought in non-white territories driven by the urge to maintain white colonial supremacy. All in the name of “national interest”.
In the post WWII era, the USA was the architect of more than 8 wars, displacing over 40 million people from their homes. More than 30 million Afghanis, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Syrians, Yeminis, Somalis, Libyans amongst others are living as refugees or displaced persons and the USA must take full responsibility for this. Millions of deaths and psychological damage has been inflicted on innocent people all in the name of the “war on terror”.
The USA and her Western Allies do not have a record of establishing peace anywhere in the world, despite boasting over 800 military bases around the world.
It is also true to say that every USA embassy on the African continent serves as “headquarters” for AFRICOM. The USA has built embassies on the continent which cover very large areas than usual. Inside those embassies, you will get battalions of US Marines stationed, in the name of “the national interest”, protecting the embassies from would be terrorists’ attacks.
One just need to look at how large are the US embassies in small countries like the Kingdom of Eswatini, Zimbabwe or even Pretoria in South Africa. Why do they require such large space? It is simply because they need to have huge numbers of their soldiers in those compounds, and I bet that some of those soldiers can easily overwhelm some African countries entire Armies should there be need for that. This is unacceptable in the normal sense.
Would the USA or any European country for that matter allow Iranian forces on their territories for any other reason? The answer is no. They will talk about their territorial integrity and sovereignty to deny any country a chance to do that.
We appeal to the African Union (AU) not to allow AFRICOM troops on African soil. African countries should speak with one voice and protect their territorial integrity and sovereignty. However, this will be a mammoth task for the continent to overcome. Normally, issues of this nature come with a lot of corruption at the highest-level of power. A lot of money is exchanged, and people are bought to allow this kind of thing to happen. When will our leaders become men of integrity? Many of our African dictators owe these imperialists some kind of favors, which they are reminded in times like these.
I plead with our leaders to stop making our continent feel ashamed of you. Stop being cowards and refuse this kind of humiliation.
*Dr Mustafa Mheta is a Researcher/Head of Africa Desk at Media Review Network in Johannesburg.