Monday, 02 November 2015

Across Africa, Obama Expands Secret Wars, Assassinations

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While most of the press has focused on Obama's military machinations in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, the administration has also been quietly expanding its secret wars and assassination programs across Africa. From training the militaries of various unsavory regimes and boosting the military capabilities of the so-called African Union, to establishing drone bases to facilitate espionage and extrajudicial killings, the White House is literally treating the continent as a vast battlefield in need of perpetual U.S. “intervention.” And the consequences have been deadly.

Additional insight into the White House's shadowy scheming emerged in late October, when The Intercept published a series of stories on Obama's mass-murder programs, based largely on leaked documents, under the title “Drone Papers.” One of the articles zeroed in on a semi-secret drone base in the nation of Djibouti dubbed Chabelley Airfield. Of course, The New American and other publications have been reporting on Obama's African drone machinations in the small African nation since at least 2012. But the new report sheds additional light on what appear to be preparations for lawless war in Africa without end — and without any legal authority or public oversight.   

In 2013, Chabelley Airfield was just an isolated landing strip in the desert once reserved for the French Foreign Legion. About 10 kilometers away is a massive U.S. military facility with some 5,000 troops known as the Camp Lemonnier Naval Expeditionary Base, from which some 20 U.S. military flights — drones and jet fighters — were taking off each day by 2012. After a series of U.S. drone crashes around Camp Lemonnier spooked Djibouti authorities, though, the isolated airstrip would take on a new role, being transformed into a major outpost for shadowy and illegal Obama administration activities across the region. According to reports, drones launched from the base can reach Yemen and parts of Saudi Arabia, as well as much of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Egypt.  

“This base is now very important because it’s a major hub for most drone operations in northwest Africa,” GlobalSecurity.org Senior Fellow Tim Brown, an expert on analyzing satellite imagery, was quoted as saying by The Intercept. “It’s vital.” Brown also noted that the new location allows the White House to keep its drone machinations more secret than the larger and more obvious Camp Lemonnier. “They’re able to operate with much less oversight — not completely in secret — but there’s much less chance of ongoing observation of how often drones are leaving and what they’re doing,” he said.

The emergence of Chabelley Airfield as an important hub for Obama's drone warfare was not entirely a secret. Indeed, when the U.S. government began shifting its drones from Camp Lemonnier, which was right next to Djibouti international airport, over to the new location, multiple news agencies reported it. Apparently no less than five accidents involving the “MQ-1” Predator drones had occurred since 2011 — and one of those crashed in a residential area in the capital. So, the Pentagon quietly asked Congress for tax funding to build “minimal facilities” for “temporary operations” at the airstrip expected to last no more than two years.

But those two years have come and gone. And not only is the drone base still there, it has expanded massively. According to The Intercept reporter Nick Turse, Chabelley Airfield is now an “enduring” base for the U.S. government and a “key hub for its secret war, run by the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), in Africa and the Middle East.” And while the Obama Pentagon fails to mention it on public lists of U.S. bases, and refuses to answer or even acknowledge questions about it, “official documents, satellite imagery, and expert opinion indicate … that Chabelley is now essential to secret drone operations throughout the region.”

But it is not just people living around Djibouti who must live in fear of Obama's drone-fired Hellfire missiles landing on their homes and families, or the terrifying “special operations” raids ostensibly aimed at capturing and killing suspected militants. “The startling transformation of this little-known garrison in this little-known country is in line with U.S. military activity in Africa where, largely under the radar, the number of missions, special operations deployments, and outposts has grown rapidly and with little outside scrutiny,” explained Turse in his report, headlined “The Stealth Expansion of a Secret U.S. Drone Base in Africa.”

Indeed, The New American has been reporting for years on Obama's various military interventions across Africa, most of which have received little-to-no coverage from the establishment press. The most obvious example, of course, was Libya, where the White House, acting on a United Nations resolution and vowing to defy Congress, backed self-declared al-Qaeda leaders in a bloody “regime change” operation targeting the regime of dictator (and former U.S. terror war ally) Moammar Gadhafi. At least the war received coverage, however misleading. Today, though, the nation, now in ruins, has become a jihadist “wonderland” drowning in civil war and terrorism — and the press is all but gone.  

But while Libya received the most attention, it was hardly the only case of Obama lawlessly intervening militarily in Africa and the broader Middle East region. In Yemen, for example — a poverty-stricken nation within reach of Obama's Africa-based drones — the White House has been intervening non-stop for years. Ironically, the administration touted Yemen, on the tip of the Arabian peninsula practically bordering Somalia, as a “model” of U.S. military intervention, even as the nation was violently imploding. Today the country is drowning in civil war and terrorism, and countless innocent civilians, including a 16-year-old American boy, have been massacred by Obama's drones without even a semblance of due process and with no constitutionally declared war.

Just last week, meanwhile, news reports said U.S. troops were again in Niger, this time training the regime's military forces. It is part of what one unnamed Obama official referred to as a “new wave” of military support for African governments and dictators supposedly battling Boko Haram's Islamist militants. After Niger's military, Obama plans to train government forces in Cameroon, Nigeria, and Chad, the official, “speaking on condition of anonymity,” told the U.S. government-funded media outlet Voice of America. “This training benefits Nigerien military personnel and U.S. Army soldiers who share the mutual security goal of regional stability and security in Africa,” Major General Daryl Williams, the commander of U.S. Army Africa, was quoted as saying.

The U.S. embassy in Niger said the training would emphasize “airfield security procedures.” None of that should be surprising, though, as The New American reported in 2013 that Obama had ordered U.S. forces to Niger, where they were supposed to “provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region.” In addition to the almost 300 U.S. troops, two Raptor drones and pilot crews were also dispatched to the nation.

Also targeted by Obama and his allies for U.S. military intervention was the Ivory Coast, where the White House helped the UN and the French government depose a Christian president after a contested election by backing Islamist militias. After massacring tens of thousands of Christians, the UN- and Obama-backed Islamist forces installed a Muslim central banker as “president,” who promptly shut down opposition media and led a ruthless crackdown on critics. The nation is still in turmoil today.

In Mali, meanwhile, also based on the illegitimate authority of a UN Security Council resolution instead of congressional approval, Obama intervened to help a military junta beat back a group of desert nomads hoping to create an independent homeland for themselves. In that war, the White House provided air support and logistics to the Socialist French government's UN-backed military campaign. Eventually, and despite repeatedly having pledged “no boots on the ground,” the Obama administration also deployed U.S. forces in the conflict.    

And that is all just the tip of Obama's military intervention iceberg in Africa. Most of it is still secret. And much of it is non-military, with the White House bribing and bullying African governments to adopt its radical positions on everything from homosexuality to abortion in what critics have blasted as “cultural imperialism.” Obama has also been a key player, along with Beijing and the European Union, in boosting the African Union, an EU-style continental regime being imposed on Africans without their consent.

Much of the military scheming across Africa has been justified by the Obama administration as an effort to keep track of and hunt down Islamist militants, some of whom are supposedly affiliated with al-Qaeda. Yet in Libya, Syria, and beyond, the Obama administration and its allies have been key supporters of Islamist militants in their jihad against “apostate” dictators. Former CIA chief and U.S. General David Petraeus even proposed an open U.S.-al-Qaeda alliance in Syria. In other words, the notion that Obama's lawless and rapidly expanding military intervention across Africa is aimed at “al-Qaeda” is almost certainly false.   

As the rapid expansion without scrutiny of the Obama administration's Chabelley Airfield in Djibouti shows, the press and Congress seem to be asleep at the wheel. The media must do its duty and keep the American people informed about what their government is doing in their name and with their money. And Congress should promptly defund and investigate Nobel Peace Prize laureate Obama's unconstitutional military interventions across Africa — not to mention the mass-murder-via-drone program.  

Not only have the American people's elected representatives not declared war on any African country, the U.S. government is drowning Americans in debt while making Africa even more unstable and the United States more unsafe in the process.

It is time for Washington, D.C., to follow the non-interventionist advice of America's Founders and get the U.S. military out of Africa.

 Photo: AP Images

Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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