Northern Mali was captured by Islamist militants nine months ago; the international community has been debating since then over what action should be taken. The conflict escalated last week when France launched its air assault to “maintain stability in the region.” Eric Margolis, an award-winning columnist who’s extensively covered conflicts in Africa, believes president Hollande is sensitive to France’s role as a former colonial power in Mali.
Posts Tagged ‘Africa’
African mission plea for more firepower after being humiliated by rebel advance in DRC
Jan 13, 2013
The United Nations is considering using unmanned drones in its peacekeeping operations for the first time, as it seeks to strengthen its forces in eastern Congo.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, is pushing for the deployment of drones in a diplomatic battle in New York that could have far-reaching implications for the future of international peacekeeping.
The proposal to use the unarmed intelligence-gathering drones has the backing of council members the US, UK and France but faces opposition from China and Russia. Rwanda, which holds one of the council’s rotating seats, and is accused of meddling in its larger neighbour, is also determined to block the move.
Monusco, the UN’s mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the largest of its kind, was humiliated last year after first vowing to prevent armed rebels from taking the regional capital before standing aside and allowing them to march into Goma.
The M23 rebels routed the Congolese national army, despite its support from UN forces. Rwanda allegedly lent direct military support to the rebel offensive, according to a report by a UN group of experts.
Congo analyst Jason Stearns said drones could be a “technical fix” to one of the key problems: “monitoring meddling by neighbouring countries and gathering information about security developments in the vast interior of the country.”
The UN’s peacekeeping head, Herve Ladsous, has been pushing for the organisation’s creaking and poorly supplied missions to be modernised and has threatened to name and shame under-performing troop contingents. This week, he told the Security Council that the Congo mission needed more helicopters, night-vision equipment, river units and drones.
Rwanda has opposed the move, saying it does not want Africa to become a laboratory for foreign intelligence devices. Olivier Nduhungirehe, a Rwandan diplomat at the UN, said his country would oppose the use of drones, calling for further assessment of how they would be used: “We express reservations about the introduction of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to peacekeeping operations when the issues that go along with it are still being discussed,” he told the state-owned media in Rwanda.
The government in Kigali has repeatedly denied allegations that it commands the M23 rebels and rejected evidence from UN experts. The use of UAVs in Congo’s remote border areas would settle the argument and make it impossible for large-scale supply operations to be kept secret.
The UN, which has 17,000 troops and 1,400 police deployed in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country at an annual cost of $1.5bn, has been considering drones since 2009, when it asked the US for the technology and was refused. The cost of UAVs has fallen dramatically in the past five years and the Pentagon has lost its monopoly on the technology with countries from Belgium to Pakistan manufacturing them.
The first UN drone deployment faces significant opposition from veto-wielding China and Russia who have concerns over the security of the intelligence gathered.
Editor’s Note: As we reported earlier regarding US intentions to dominate Africa through AFRICOM, it seems that the Department of Defense has made an official statement regarding their plans for a new military base there. If Obama gains a second term, look for this agenda to accelerate rapidly between now and 2016. The tiny country of Djibouti, located near the choke point on the Horn of Africa near Somalia and Sudan, has been chosen for obvious reasons, not least of all, as forward operating base to regulate US and Anglo ambitions to clean out Somalia and its surrounding neighbors of their precious resources. First off are Puntland, Somalia’s untapped oil reserves currently be divided up by the US and UK industries. Regardless of who wins the US post in November, let it be known that a new Neo-colonial race is at hand for the mineral wealth and energy riches still untapped from the planet’s most bountiful continent.
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON DC – For Djibouti, location is everything.
The small African nation hosts the one forward operating base the United States maintains on the African continent, and that is due to its unique location, said Amanda J. Dory, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs.
Djibouti hosts about 3,000 U.S. service members at Camp Lemonier — a former French base adjacent to the capital of Djibouti City. The U.S. service members work to build military capabilities with Djibouti and neighboring nations. The base also is a training and logistics hub.
Yet, it is not a model for how the United States will interact on the African continent, Dory said. “The DOD strategy in Africa has moved toward flexible operating concepts,” she said in a recent interview. “[We will] focus on maintaining a small footprint on the continent that is flexible and low cost.”
The U.S. military footprint will be different in each African nation, the deputy assistant secretary said.
“Each country will work with us to see what capabilities they need, how much they can commit to developing, and how fast they want to work,” she said. “They will also work with us to determine the process of working with us.”
U.S. troops, she said, will visit these nations for short periods of time for specific tasks or training cycles.
“We do not want permanent bases,” Dory said.
The U.S. military effort on the continent is being accepted by many African leaders, she said. When U.S. Africa Command first stood up, there was concern among some leaders that it signified a “militarization” of U.S. foreign policy and a sort of creeping colonialism. Those fears have subsided, she said.
“Most [African] nations welcome our contributions,” Dory said.
Djibouti is unique because it lies on the seam between U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command, officials said, and it is situated at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. Vessels transiting through the Suez Canal to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean sail close to Djibouti, which boasts a natural harbor and roads that link the interior with the coast.
The country has interest from four U.S. combatant commands — U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Transportation Command, officials said. In addition, other nations work with the Djiboutian government to ensure security in the area.
Djibouti and Camp Lemonier represent a strategic gold mine, Dory said. But Camp Lemonier, she added, will remain an expeditionary base.
“It will remain an austere base. “We will make improvements for force protection, but you will not see a golf course at Camp Lemonier, ever,” she said.
The tide of illegal immigrants from Africa to Europe does not seem to be slowing, with many countries still struggling to return to normal life after the events of the Arab spring. But people who have overcome the natural barriers are finding the ones set by humans impossible to surpass. RT’s Oksana Boyko looks at how a recent clampdown on illegal immigration in Spain and Morocco has left hundreds in limbo.