America’s excursions into Africa…’is Big Brother’ here to stay?

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A FEBRUARY 2017 article by IRIN provides an updated list of foreign military bases in Africa. The foreign power, with the most bases and operations on the continent, comes as no surprise. According to IRIN, the US is operating in the following countries:
– Burkina Faso: A ‘co-operative security location’ in Ouagadougou provides surveillance and intelligence over the Sahel.
– Cameroon: Garoua Airport in northern Cameroon is also a drone base targeting Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria. It houses unarmed Predator drones and some 300 US soldiers.
– Chad: Predator and Reaper drones are based in the capital, Ndjamena.
– Central African Republic: US special forces are based in the ‘temporary sites’ of Obo and Djema, helping the Ugandan army hunt for Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army
– Democratic Republic of the Congo: Dungu is another ‘temporary site’ used in the hunt for Kony.
– Djibouti: Camp Lemonnier, a 200-hectare expeditionary base housing some 3 200 US soldiers and civilians next to the international airport. Home to the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa of the US Africa Command, it is the only permanent US military base in Africa.
– Ethiopia: A small drone facility at Arba Minch was operational since 2011 but is now believed to have closed.
– Gabon: Bare-bones launch pad for quick-reaction forces called in to protect diplomatic facilities in the region.
– Ghana: Bare-bones launch pad for quick-reaction forces.
– Kenya: Camp Simba in Manda Bay is a base for naval personnel and Green Berets. It also houses armed drones for operations in Somalia and Yemen.
– Niger: An initial base in Niamey has been overshadowed by Agadez, capable of handling large transport aircraft and armed Reaper drones. The base covers the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin
– Somalia: US commandos are operating from compounds in Kismayo and Baledogle.
– The Seychelles: Drone operations from a base on the island of Victoria.
– Senegal: The Senegal facility was used during the US military’s Ebola response.
– South Sudan: Nzara Airfield is another base for US troops searching for Kony and related surveillance operations. US special forces have also provided training to South Sudanese troops.
– Uganda: PC-12 surveillance aircraft fly from Entebbe airport as part of the US special forces mission helping the Ugandan army hunt for Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The aforementioned information is a result of investigative journalism and pushes by media practitioners and others for the US to release previously classified information concerning military operations across the globe.
An April 2016 news article by The Nation reports for years the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), has been hiding the size of its operations on the continent, with officials reportedly creating the impression that the US was in Africa in an attempt to counter Chinese and Russian influence in the region.
In fact in March this year, AFRICOM’s chief, General Thomas Waldhauser, at a Pentagon press briefing peddled the fiction that Djibouti is the site of its only ‘base’ in Africa.
He is quoted as having informed journalists that: “We continue to maintain one forward operating site on the continent, Camp Lemonnier.”
Spokespersons for the command regularly maintain that any other US outposts are few and transitory — ‘expeditionary’, in military parlance.
In 2015, American journalist, Nick Turse, revealed that the US military also had access to locations in Algeria, Botswana, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Zambia and other countries.
Still in 2015, in official plans for operations that were drafted and issued the year before, AFRICOM lists 36 US outposts scattered across 24 African countries.
These include low-profile locations—from Kenya to south Sudan to a shadowy Libyan airfield—that have never previously been mentioned in published reports.
Today, according to an AFRICOM spokesperson, the number of these sites has actually swelled to 46, including ‘15 enduring locations’.
The newly disclosed numbers and redacted documents contradict more than a decade’s worth of dissembling by AFRICOM and shed new light on a constellation of bases integral to expanding US military operations on the African continent and in the Middle East.
The Washington Post in October 2016 in an article titled ‘US has secretly expanded its global network of drone bases to North Africa’, said that the US drones were ‘flying from a secret base in Tunisia’.
General Waldhauser responded saying that: “It’s not a secret base and it’s not our base…. We have no intention of establishing a base there.”
Waldhauser’s insistence that the US had no base in Tunisia relied on a technicality, since that foreign airfield clearly functions as an American outpost. However, the reality is that the US is operating from that country.
Camp Lemonnier is also said to be used by the CIA as a black site.
A black site is a location at which unacknowledged illegal military operations are conducted.
Yemeni national, Mohammed Abdullah Saleh Asad, claimed that he was arrested in 2003 in Tanzania and taken on a private flight to Djibouti.
He spent a short period in detention at the site before being transported to another secret CIA prison in Afghanistan.
Asad claims he was tortured at both locations.
Another detainee is Mahdi Hashi, a Somalia-born US citizen who was allegedly kidnapped while living in Mogadishu, taking care of his grandmother and transported to the US base.
The Hashi family believes that he is being targeted for refusal to become a British intelligence informant.
He has since been stripped of his British citizenship and is awaiting trial in the US.
In July this year, the site known as Salak was at the centre of an investigative report by The Intercept and the Goldsmiths, University of London-based research firm Forensic Architecture, based on extensive research by Amnesty International.
The research revealed that while Salak was used by the elite local troops based there, the outpost has become the scene of illegal imprisonment, brutal torture and even killings.
Nearly 60 victims held at Salak described to Amnesty International how they were subjected to water torture, beaten with electric cables and boards, or tied and suspended with ropes, among other abuses.
No evidence has emerged that US personnel were involved in torture, but photos and videos from Salak show US soldiers and civilian contractors near the facilities where prisoners were held and detainees testified to seeing and hearing Americans in uniform during their imprisonment.
AFRICOM did not respond to questions about whether the command was aware of reports of abuses being carried out at Salak.
Multiple requests to the US Embassy in Cameroon for an interview with Ambassador Hoza went unanswered.
Are these developments a tip of the iceberg of what is in store for Africa in coming years?

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