The United States has been a controversial “big brother” to almost every nation since its emergence as a political, economic and military power. It has for decades maintained its dominance and influence as a model for modern democracy worldwide. The U.S. has also continuously ensured narratives that tend to expose its inconsistent practices perpetuated through actions and inactions of its various international agencies, multilateral agencies and as the most significant contributor to unifying international organizations such as the United Nations.
However, in its “big brother” role to the world, the U.S., through its several humanitarian and military interventions around the globe, especially in developing countries like Asia and Africa continents, the world’s superpower, has continued to violate the sovereignty of these nations with dire political, social and economic consequences. Some of these U.S. saintly manifestations come directly or indirectly to these underdeveloped countries through USAids, UN, WHO, WFO and many others.
Africa is one of the U.S. interests and beneficiaries of its many aids, assistance, and bilateral and multilateral friendship. Despite all of the U.S.’ overwhelming gestures to the continent, Africa still battles significant development, political, social and security problems which have been impediments to its rise into the league of nations. Political issues such as coup d’état, election violence and even prolonged political reign of some political leaders have been the narrative of some African countries that get aid and maintain diplomatic relations with America.
Furthermore, basic welfare, inherent human rights abuses, poor health system and standard of life are the hallmarks of most African nations. Some of these African nations, including North and West Africa, which depend on military and security aid, partnership and intelligence from the U.S., are still blighted by insurgency, terrorism and tribal wars.
In 2008, the U.S. government took an incredible move toward Africa’s security and antiterrorism fight when it commissioned its African Security Command (AFRICOM), a security command headquartered at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany, under the direct supervision of the Pentagon and flourished with intelligence by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It came into full operation the same year and has since festered the antiterrorism and insurgency war in Africa instead of curtailing it. Some African countries are now becoming safe havens for insurgents and rising non-state actors in almost every part of the continent. More worrisome is the increased dehumanization, human rights abuses, and collateral damage perpetrated by some armed forces of African nations trained and equipped mainly by the U.S through AFRICOM.
In Somalia, more than 46 per cent of the country’s population has been displaced since American forces once again entered combat there in 2002. Hundreds of thousands have sought refuge in neighbouring countries in the last 18 years, and for the last decade, U.S. warplanes have routinely dropped bombs and fired missiles on the terror group Shabab. While the Pentagon has been slow to acknowledge killing civilians in those strikes, it recently admitted to doing so for the third time after reporting by Amnesty International.
Since it arrived in the East African country, the U.S. has launched over 2000 intense and extensive attacks that have resulted in degraded health systems, shortage of food and potable water, shelter and underdevelopment.
According to World Bank, Somalia’s health indicators are among the worst in the world. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs described the country’s healthcare system as “overburdened, fragmented, under-resourced, and ill-equipped to provide lifesaving or preventive services.” These are some dire consequences of protracted U.S. forces’ bombardments in Africa.
There has also been abundant evidence of human rights abuses, assault, extra-judicial killings and torture by CIA-trained, armed and financed African military and other security agencies.
AFRICOM has continued to support and even cover up those countries it shared military relations with and, in some cases, cover-up traces pointing at U.S. forces and personal complicity.
In 2018, Amnesty International and BBC released an exposé on the massacre of five civilians by the Cameroonian military, the same army trained and financed by the U.S. The Central African country is also a significant partner of the U.S. Counterterrorism operations in Africa, and it has enjoyed military and security aid and assistance through AFRICOM. In most of these reports, the U.S. military personnel has been alleged to be around the location and tarmac of these assaults, torture, and even extra-judicial killings.
Still, AFRICOM has failed to publish reports of investigation it carried out on these allegations of civilian assault, human rights abuses, dehumanization and illegal imprisonment in contingency location Garoua a where U.S. military use to fly drone missions and Salak also shared with US Force and private contractors for training missions and drone surveillance both in Cameroon.
The narrative of human right abuse and inherent abusive approaches by the U.S. trained African armed forces in the name of enhanced interrogation is not limited to the western part of the continent, as evident in an investigative report on the activities of the Kenyan Rapid Respond Team (RRT) a paramilitary operation set up, trained, and financed by CIA and M16. The report revealed that RRT, since its creation, has made several “capture and kill” raids, usually based on mistaken identity or flawed intelligence resulting in civilians right abuse, killings or even disappearance of innocent civilians.
Just like Zeinab Hussein, whose son was arrested by Kenyan Anti-Terror Police Unit officers on June 11, 2021. The initial charge, resisting arrest, was switched to “charges relating to terrorism.” A magistrate ordered him released, but the police requested seven more days to complete their “investigation,” and when the family went to pick him up, they were told he had been released thirty minutes earlier. They have not seen him since.
CIA activities and operations in Africa have also been traced to several political unrest and insurrection in some African countries. The American Intelligence powerhouse in the protracted political unrest in South Sudan political unrest cannot be overlooked. The Agency has used U.S.-trained warlord Rick Machar in an abortive coup against democratically elected president Salva Kiir to protect the US’ monopolistic oil exploitation and exploration interest in the country. This is contained in an independent report on the CIA’s ‘Dirty War’ in South Sudan by Thomas C. Mountain, published in Telesur2014.
In at least five African countries, the U.S. trained African military officials have successfully intercepted democratic dispensations in countries through coup d’état, one in Mauritania and the Gambia, three each in Guinea, Mali and most recent Burkina Faso, all in West Africa.
Though AFRICOM reiterates that its security cooperation and capacity-building activities foster the development of professional militaries which are disciplined and committed to the well-being of their citizen, this has been a fantasy in the reality of the perpetual seizure of power in many African countries by African military officers with a history of professional, tactical and educational training and experience from one or more U.S. military schools sponsored by U.S. government. For instance, the head of the junta that overthrew Mali’s government was Col. Assimi Goita who worked with U.S. special operations, participated in Flintlock training exercises and attended seminars at MacDill Force base in Florida.
The three successive military coups in Burkina Faso were led by US-trained Burkinabe soldiers with a thorough experience of several US Force operations, missions and training. If any reason, these cases indicate U.S. military counterproductive activities contributing to slow, staggered or even crippled sustenance of democracy and political stability in Africa.
Inaccurate, shallow, and incomprehensive intelligence gathering by the CIA has also resulted in countless avoidable collateral damages in many African countries suffering from insurgency and militant activities.
In a recent report published by Intercept, it was revealed that over 160 died in an airstrike carried out by the Nigerian army in 2018, which acted on intelligence provided by the CIA, as hinted by an anonymous senior Nigerian military officer familiar with the operation. It was also discovered that instead of taking responsibility and proactive measures to curtain the immediate damage of this flawed intelligence and prevent future occurrences, AFRICOM took no responsibility for the incident and has also ensured that an investigation it instituted on the incident is not made to the public in an apparent cover-up.
Considering the various nefarious and dehumanization activities of the U.S. security activities perpetrated under the disguise of security aid and antiterrorism fight in Africa, it is imperative to call out the American government, the Pentagon and its security command in Africa (AFRICOM) to come fore, take responsibilities of it numerous reported flaws, enhance transparent and controlled military assistance and aids and also synergize with its humanitarian agencies in reparation and compensation of victims of it various military operation and missions.
It is also important to consider the recommendation of thedirector of the Security Assistance Monitor, Lauren Woods “we need more transparency and public debate on the foreign military training that we provide. And we need to do a much better job thinking about long-term risk- including coups and abuses by forces we train.” A close and sincere consideration of Wood’s assertion will to a reasonable extent, enrich the democracy and political struggle of African countries as its military forces maintain their crux of sustaining the sovereignty of African Nations, protecting and respecting citizens’ rights and formidable enemies to an enemy of the African Nations instead of perpetual political involvement and interference which has left record economic, social, political and infrastructural backlogs.