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The US military’s plans to cement its network of African bases – The Mail & Guardian

Internal documents from the US military’s Africa Command (Africom) reveal ambitious plans to extend and reinforce a network of low-profile military bases and outposts across the continent. The files detail more than $330-million of spending, including a list of “prioritised” military construction projects planned to be carried out from 2021 to 2025. This is designated for infrastructure investments on US bases stretching across Africa. The files also suggest that Africom’s long-term planning extends for up to 20 years.  

The formerly secret documents, issued  in October 2018, detail 12 construction projects planned for four US outposts in three countries — Djibouti, Kenya and Niger — that have long been integral to US counterterrorism and counter-violent extremist missions in Africa, suggesting these efforts will continue in the years ahead. 

Africom spokesperson John Manley told the Mail & Guardian through email that the projects detailed in the plans “continue on course and are in various stages of planning and/or execution”.

“The plans, whether they materialise or not, seem to indicate that the Pentagon is interested in expanding its infrastructure in Africa, for drone ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and drone warfare, as well as training camps and lily-pad bases for increasing the US capacity to project force in key regions, the Horn of Africa, East Africa and the Sahel,” said Salih Booker, the president and chief executive of the Center for International Policy in Washington DC. 

https://mg.co.za/article/2020-05-01-exclusive-the-us-militarys-plans-to-cement-its-network-of-african-bases/

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2020 in Africa, North America, Reportages

 

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Lake Chad: A War Fueled By Global Warming

The problem is not, as often described, a shrinking of the lake. Rather, it is the unpredictable weather. A study conducted by the Berlin-based think tank Adelphi on behalf of the German and Dutch foreign ministries has concluded that, while the surface area of Lake Chad may fluctuate seasonally, it’s size has in fact remained relatively stable since the early 2000s. Indeed, if groundwater is included, it has actually grown. The problem is the rain: It is becoming less and less predictable. In addition, the lake’s surface is becoming overgrown with islands of grass, which complicates fishing and boat traffic. Climate models predict an increase of extreme weather in the Sahel, which will further exacerbate these problems.

All of this has direct consequences for Europe. Without the cooperation of the Sahel states, the European Union won’t be able to achieve the level of migration control it is hoping for. What’s more: The Sahel is becoming increasingly lawless. Hunger and terrorism are on the rise, as are migration, human trafficking and smuggling.

Lake Chad is one of the most important sources of life in the Sahel. Back in the 19th century, a fascinated French military officer described the lake as an ecological miracle. For centuries, it has provided those who live on its shores and islands with a livelihood. For the entire Sahel, it has served as an economic hub and a source of food for more than 20 million people. But the lake’s ecosystem is changing rapidly — and so, too, are the societies that live around it.

https://www.topixbuzz.com/lake-chad-a-war-fueled-by-global-warming/

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2020 in Africa, Reportages

 

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Exclusive: Gold worth billions smuggled out of Africa

Billions of dollars’ worth of gold is being smuggled out of Africa every year through the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East – a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and beyond – a Reuters analysis has found.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-gold-africa-smuggling-exclusive/exclusive-gold-worth-billions-smuggled-out-of-africa-idUSKCN1S00IT

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2019 in Reportages

 

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Arab Spring, Again? Nervous Autocrats Look Out Windows as Crowds Swell

In Sudan, tens of thousands of demonstrators are sitting in to demand the ouster of their longtime ruler.

In Algeria, millions of protesters forced out their own octogenarian leader last week.

And in Libya, an aging general is battling to establish himself as a new strongman, promising to end the chaos that kicked off when Libyans threw out their own dictator eight years ago.

The hopes inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 soured long ago. But across North Africa, the reverberations are coursing through the region once again, shaking autocratic governments and posing new questions about the future.

Veterans of the Arab Spring struggles say the scenes feel like flashbacks to chapters of a common story. The masses now clamoring for the removal of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan evoke the crowds that gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo or outside the Tunisian interior ministry eight years ago.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2019 in Africa, Middle East

 

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Massive solar and wind farms could bring vegetation back to the Sahara

Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is an important and necessary step towards averting climate change. However, in our efforts to go green, we also need to be mindful of other consequences, both intended and unintended – and that includes how a mass deployment of renewable technology might affect its surrounding climate.

What if the Sahara desert was turned into a giant solar and wind farm, for instance? This is the topic of new research published in Science by Yan Li and colleagues. They found that all those hypothetical wind turbines and solar panels would make their immediate surroundings both warmer and rainier, and could turn parts of the Sahara green for the first time in at least 4,500 years.

https://theconversation.com/massive-solar-and-wind-farms-could-bring-vegetation-back-to-the-sahara-102745

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2018 in Africa, Reportages

 

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Africa’s free trade fairy tale

A cross section of Africa’s most powerful people gathered in Kigali this week to sell a dream – and sell it hard.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who revelled in his role as host of this extraordinary African Union (AU) summit, described this dream as “among the most consequential actions that this Assembly has ever taken”. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said that anyone who did not support it was a “criminal”. South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa invoked not one but three liberation heroes to underscore the significance of the moment:

“This is probably just as important as the formation of Organisation of African Unity (OAU). This is what Kwame Nkrumah dreamt of, what Julius Nyerere wanted to see, what Nelson Mandela wanted to see realised. It’s truly a new dawn for Africa,” he said.

The presidents were speaking, of course, about the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a landmark trade deal that would create a single market from the Cape to Cairo, and from Djibouti to Dakar.

https://mg.co.za/article/2018-03-22-africas-free-trade-fairy-tale

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2018 in Africa

 

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The African Enlightenment

The ideals of the Enlightenment are the basis of our democracies and universities in the 21st century: belief in reason, science, skepticism, secularism, and equality. In fact, no other era compares with the Age of Enlightenment. Classical Antiquity is inspiring, but a world away from our modern societies. The Middle Ages was more reasonable than its reputation, but still medieval. The Renaissance was glorious, but largely because of its result: the Enlightenment. The Romantic era was a reaction to the Age of Reason – but the ideals of today’s modern states are seldom expressed in terms of romanticism and emotion. Immanuel Kant’s argument in the essay ‘Perpetual Peace’ (1795) that ‘the human race’ should work for ‘a cosmopolitan constitution’ can be seen as a precursor for the United Nations.

As the story usually goes, the Enlightenment began with René Descartes’s Discourse on the Method (1637), continuing on through John Locke, Isaac Newton, David Hume, Voltaire and Kant for around one and a half centuries, and ending with the French Revolution of 1789, or perhaps with the Reign of Terror in 1793. By the time that Thomas Paine published The Age of Reason in 1794, that era had reached its twilight. Napoleon was on the rise.

https://aeon.co/essays/yacob-and-amo-africas-precursors-to-locke-hume-and-kant

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Africa

 

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China’s Appetite Pushes Fisheries to the Brink 

Once upon a time, the seas teemed with mackerel, squid and sardines, and life was good. But now, on opposite sides of the globe, sun-creased fishermen lament as they reel in their nearly empty nets.

“Your net would be so full of fish, you could barely heave it onto the boat,” said Mamadou So, 52, a fisherman in Senegal, gesturing to the meager assortment of tiny fish flapping in his wooden canoe.

A world away in eastern China, Zhu Delong, 75, also shook his head as his net dredged up a disappointing array of pinkie-size shrimp and fledgling yellow croakers. “When I was a kid, you could cast a line out your back door and hook huge yellow croakers,” he said. “Now the sea is empty.”

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/04/30/world/asia/chinas-appetite-pushes-fisheries-to-the-brink.html?referer=

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2017 in Africa, Asia

 

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A Planet’s Future Threatened by the Fate of Its Children

“This is a war against normal life.” So said CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward, describing the situation at this moment in Syria, as well as in other parts of the Middle East. It was one of those remarks that should wake you up to the fact that the regions the United States has, since September 2001, played such a role in destabilizing are indeed in crisis, and that this process isn’t just taking place at the level of failing states and bombed-out cities, but in the most personal way imaginable. It’s devastating for countless individuals — mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, friends, lovers — and above all for children.

Ward’s words caught a reality that grows harsher by the week, and not just in Syria, but in parts of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, among other places in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Death and destruction stalk whole populations in Syria and other crumbling countries and failed or failing states across the region.  In one of those statistics that should stagger the imagination, devastated Syria alone accounts for more than five million of the estimated 21 million refugees worldwide. And sadly, these numbers do not reflect an even harsher reality: you only become a “refugee” by crossing a border.  According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in 2015 there were another 44 million people uprooted from their homes who were, in essence, exiles in their own lands.  Add those numbers together and you have one out of every 113 people on the planet — and those figures, the worst since World War II, may only be growing.

Source: Tomgram: Karen Greenberg, A Planet’s Future Threatened by the Fate of Its Children | TomDispatch

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The U.S. Military Moves Deeper into Africa

General Thomas Waldhauser sounded a little uneasy.  “I would just say, they are on the ground.  They are trying to influence the action,” commented the chief of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) at a Pentagon press briefing in March, when asked about Russian military personnel operating in North Africa.  “We watch what they do with great concern.”

And Russians aren’t the only foreigners on Waldhauser’s mind.  He’s also wary of a Chinese “military base” being built not far from Camp Lemonnier, a large U.S. facility in the tiny, sun-blasted nation of Djibouti.  “They’ve never had an overseas base, and we’ve never had a base of… a peer competitor as close as this one happens to be,” he said.  “There are some very significant… operational security concerns.”

At that press conference, Waldhauser mentioned still another base, an American one exposed by the Washington Post last October in an article titled, “U.S. has secretly expanded its global network of drone bases to North Africa.”  Five months later, the AFRICOM commander still sounded aggrieved.  “The Washington Post story that said ‘flying from a secret base in Tunisia.’  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 U.S. had no base in Tunisia relied on a technicality, since that foreign airfield clearly functions as an American outpost. For years, AFRICOM has peddled the fiction that Djibouti is the site of its only “base” in Africa. “We continue to maintain one forward operating site on the continent, Camp Lemonnier,” reads the command’s 2017 posture statement.  Spokespeople for the command regularly maintain that any other U.S. outposts are few and transitory — “expeditionary” in military parlance.

Source: Tomgram: Nick Turse, The U.S. Military Moves Deeper into Africa | TomDispatch

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Africa, North America

 

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