Tag Archives: US

Fight Terrorism Or Control Resources: What’s the Real Reason for U.S.’s Increased Presence In Africa?

Although the Trump administration has not expressed much of an interest in Africa, the U.S. has an increased presence in the continent. As China has ramped up its economic presence and enlarged its footprint in Africa, the U.S. is not waging economic war but rather a shadow commando war.

Uncle Sam is building a massive presence of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command as VICE news reported, with an unprecedented growth in deployment among elite units such as the Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs. While at least 116 special operations missions took place at once around the world in 2011, today these commando units are engaged in close to 100 missions in Africa alone. More specifically, 1,700 Americans are involved in 96 missions in 20 African nations at any one time, according to a declassified October 2016 document from the Special Operations Command in Africa, or SOCAFRICA. SOCAFRICA supports the United States Africa Command, or AFRICOM, which is responsible for Defense Department operations on the African continent. The U.S. military has divided the world into six geographic sectors — AFRICOM, NORTHCOM, PACOM, SOUTHCOM, EUCOM and CENTCOM. As reported by HuffPost, AFRICOM now maintains 46 U.S. military bases in 24 African countries.

The Government Accountability Office report on Special Operations Forces documented a dramatic rise of U.S. commandos in Africa, from 1 percent of all special forces abroad in 2006 to 3 percent in 2010 to over 17 percent last year. Only the Middle East has more elite U.S. forces conducting operations in its region.

Terrorism on the African continent is the reason for the deployment, according to the U.S. Special Operations Command, which lists by name the terrorist groups being fought, al-Qaida In the Lands of the Islamic Magreb, ISIS, al-Murabitun, Ansar al-Sharia, Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army and al-Shabaab. There are close to 50 terrorist organizations operating in Africa, according to The Intercept. Terror attacks in sub-Saharan Africa have increased from 100 per year in 2006 to nearly 2,000 in 2015, based on data from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.

Seal of the United States Africa Command (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

“Our long-term vision is to enable and support our African partners to deter violent extremist organizations, achieve effective governance, promote future socio-economic development and protect the populace to achieve peace and prosperity in Africa,” reads the SOCAFRICA report, which declared that the U.S. is not at war with Africa, but its African partners are. SOCAFRICA says terrorist, insurgent and criminal groups are exploiting fragile environments in conflict: “Their goals are to expand illicit networks, establish safe havens, subvert legitimate authority, recruit and mobilize people and resources and to fuel crises to their advantage.”

The U.S. military claims it is countering violent extremism to allow African nations time to develop good governance and self-security. The report cites destabilizing forces that contribute to internal conflict and encourage popular uprisings and violent extremism, including corruption, poor government leadership, heavy-handed autocracies and socioeconomic inequality. External pressure from terrorists and foreign fighters, drug, weapon and human trafficking and illegal immigration pose a threat not only to African countries but to southern European countries, according to the report. These external factors also “contribute to security shortfalls, human rights violations, corruption and government mismanagement producing an environment conducive to subversion, military coups and mass atrocities.”

Terrorism on the African continent is the reason for the deployment, according to the U.S. Special Operations Command, which lists by name the terrorist groups being fought, al-Qaida In the Lands of the Islamic Magreb, ISIS, al-Murabitun, Ansar al-Sharia, Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army and al-Shabaab. There are close to 50 terrorist organizations operating in Africa, according to The Intercept. Terror attacks in sub-Saharan Africa have increased from 100 per year in 2006 to nearly 2,000 in 2015, based on data from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.

“Our long-term vision is to enable and support our African partners to deter violent extremist organizations, achieve effective governance, promote future socio-economic development and protect the populace to achieve peace and prosperity in Africa,” reads the SOCAFRICA report, which declared that the U.S. is not at war with Africa, but its African partners are. SOCAFRICA says terrorist, insurgent and criminal groups are exploiting fragile environments in conflict: “Their goals are to expand illicit networks, establish safe havens, subvert legitimate authority, recruit and mobilize people and resources and to fuel crises to their advantage.”

The U.S. military claims it is countering violent extremism to allow African nations time to develop good governance and self-security. The report cites destabilizing forces that contribute to internal conflict and encourage popular uprisings and violent extremism, including corruption, poor government leadership, heavy-handed autocracies and socioeconomic inequality. External pressure from terrorists and foreign fighters, drug, weapon and human trafficking and illegal immigration pose a threat not only to African countries but to southern European countries, according to the report. These external factors also “contribute to security shortfalls, human rights violations, corruption and government mismanagement producing an environment conducive to subversion, military coups and mass atrocities.”

Each region of the African continent faces its own challenges, the SOCAFRICA report notes. For example, North Africa, which is a major source of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, suffers from political instability and threats of violent extremism. Groups such as al-Qaida, ISIS and others are thriving in Libya. As The Washington Post reported in 2016, President Barack Obama secretly expanded its worldwide network of drone bases to Tunisia to conduct spying missions on Libya. In Western Africa, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and criminal organizations are gaining influence, fueled by inequality and ineffective governance. The Lord’s Resistance Army and criminal organizations operate in Central Africa, where they contribute to instability in already volatile places. In East Africa, where conflict is expected for the foreseeable future, the al-Qaida-affiliated group al-Shabaab is active in Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Obama intensified a clandestine, shadow war in Somalia in his final year in office, as The New York Times reported, using special operations, airstrikes, African allies and private contractors to fight militants in the Horn of Africa. Al-Shabaab was responsible for a number of attacks, such as a 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed 60 and wounded more than 175. Last year, the group nearly brought down a Somali airplane with a bomb hidden in a laptop, and killed over 100 Kenyan troops before taking their vehicles and weapons.

In his “U.S. Strategy Towards Sub-Saharan Africa” in 2012, Obama said, “Africa’s economies are among the fastest growing in the world, with technological change sweeping across the continent and offering tremendous opportunities in banking, medicine, politics and business.” The threat of violence and disruption stemming from internal and external forces only serves to undermine that economic growth, giving the U.S. military an opportunity to wage a secret war on the continent, purportedly for stability and security in Africa, but most certainly for American geopolitical interests.

As Al Jazeera reported, AFRICOM is key to consolidating U.S. interests in Africa. North Africa has vast oil and natural gas reserves, the Sahara and the continent as a whole are rich in mineral resources and six of the 10 fastest-growing economies are located in sub-Saharan Africa. With oil and natural resources in Africa, the continent has major strategic significance that belies the official U.S. narrative that it is waging primarily a war on terror in Africa.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Confromist

US, Syrian, and Russian Airstrikes Kill Dozens of Civilians

The civilian toll of the Syrian war continues to rise, with airstrikes driving the toll today, as US, Russian, and Syrian warplanes all took to the skies, pounding targets in rebel-held parts of the country, killing at least 44 civilians across the country.

The biggest single incident was in Abu Kamal, along the Iraqi border, where US airstrikes killed at least 30 civilians, mostly women and children. The Pentagon downplayed the incident, saying they couldn’t confirm the civilian casualties, and that they’d “tried to avoid” killing any civilians.

Abu Kamal is a main border crossing between Iraq and Syria, and the Syrian side is mostly controlled by ISIS. The other strikes saw Russia killing 10 civilians in Maaret Harmeh, in Idlib Province, and four civilians were killed by Syrian government strikes in Aleppo Province.

This marks the latest in a growing number of US strikes with large civiliian tolls across Iraq and Syria, most of which never make it into official Pentagon figures, despite substantial third party evidence that they took place. The result of this is that the “official” figure is less than 10% the number killed according to NGOs.

by Jason Ditz/AntiWar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Israel approves permits for 566 settler homes

Building plan in East Jerusalem approved by local council after being held up until Donald Trump took office in the US.

Israeli authorities have approved building permits for 566 settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem, according to local officials, a move that has drawn condemnation from Palestinian leaders.

The approval of the building plan on Sunday came two days after the inauguration of Donald Trump in the United States, with Israeli official saying the permits had been held up until the end of Barack Obama’s administration, which had been critical of Israeli settlement activity.

“The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump’s arrival as president,” Meir Turgeman, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, told AFP news agency.

“We no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build.”

Turgeman said that city officials approved the plans that had been previously postponed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request following a UN Security Council resolution in December against Israeli settlement building.

The new permits are for homes in the settlement neighbourhoods of Pisgat Zeev, Ramot and Ramat Shlomo, according to Turgeman, who also heads the planning committee that approved them.

Turgeman said plans for about 11,000 other homes were also in process in East Jerusalem, though he did not say when they could proceed.

‘State above law’

Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law and have been major stumbling blocks in negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

Between 2009 and 2014, Israeli settlements expanded by 23 percent in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the building plans and called on the United Nations to take action, particularly given the recent Security Council resolution.

“It is time to stop dealing with Israel as a state above the law,” he said.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from West Jerusalem, said that with Trump now in the White House the Israeli government feels it can build illegal settlements on Palestinian land without facing much criticism.

“They think that this is a retooling of the relationship with the US,” Khan said. “Under President Trump the Israelis feel that they will have a lot more leeway to build on Palestinian land,” he added.

“And this is a message to the world that they can build wherever they want, including on the land of a future Palestinian state.”

Netanyahu-Trump talks

Netanyahu said on Sunday that he was to speak with Trump later in the day, their first conversation since the billionaire businessman took office.

Trump has pledged strong support for Israel and vowed during his campaign to recognise Jerusalem as the country’s capital despite the city’s contested status.

READ MORE: Abbas warns Trump not to move US embassy to Jerusalem

Israel clashed frequently with Obama over construction in areas it conquered in 1967.

But Trump’s appointed ambassador to Israel has close ties to Jewish West Bank settlements, as does the foundation run by the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

From Al Jazeera and news agencies

Posted by The NON-conformist

Edward Snowden’s latest leak: NSA monitored online porn habits of ‘radicalizers’ to discredit them

Edward Snowden’s latest leak: NSA monitored online porn habits of ‘radicalizers’ to discredit them (via Raw Story )

A document provided by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden explains the agency’s plan to discredit Islamic “radicalizers” by monitoring their online habits for indications they visited pornographic websites or used

sed “sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls,” the Huffington Post reported Tuesday night.

“Radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document states. The Post reported that the Oct. 12 missive was sent to the Drug Enforcement Association (DEA) and the Commerce, Customs, Justice and Transportation Departments.

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Christian American Patriots Militia leader: We now have authority to shoot Obama

Christian American Patriots Militia leader: We now have authority to shoot Obama (via Raw Story )

An apparent threat made against President Barack Obama’s life posted on Facebook has caught the attention of the Secret Service. Agents declined to comment on the post, which has been removed but was preserved in screen captures by Social News Daily…

Posted by The NON-Conformist

US troops could stay in Afghanistan until 2024 – security pact

US Marines from the 2nd Battalion wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province in Afghanistan (AFP Photo / Manpreet Romana)
AFP Photo / Manpreet Romana

The US and Afghanistan have reportedly agreed on the draft of a mutual security pact indicating that US troops could remain in the country until 2024, according to Afghanistan. However, the US insists that some final details still need to be clarified.

Afghan politicians and tribal leaders will meet in two days to vote on the new agreement.

Although the final text of the agreement is expected to be presented to the grand council on Thursday, it still needs some final touches a US State Department spokeswoman said. “There are still some final issues we are working through… We are not there yet,” she said according to Reuters.

While the 25-page “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” is still unsigned, the deal displays a willingness of the US to retain their military outposts for many years while continuing to pay to support Afghan security forces.

The presence of up to 15,000 American troops could potentially last until 2024, according to the document, which was released for public viewing by NBC News.

More from Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

400 US troops to deploy to Egypt

More than 400 US soldiers are preparing for their deployment to Egypt in anticipation of violent protests, riots, and the possibility of having to protect the country’s border with Israel.

Training at Fort Hood for a nine-month deployment in the “near future” concluded on June 20, KCEN-TV reports, noting that the soldiers encountered Molotov cocktails and “other dangerous items” in their training.

“Just what I’ve seen over the course of the past week, this unit is already far more ready for this type of threat than we were last week,” Lt. Matthew Wilkinson told the television station. According to KDH News, the training lasted about six months.

“We want to be as professional as possible so that whatever situation we may encounter, [so] the opposing force knows that we mean business and we know what we’re doing,” said PFC Perez Alexander.

Troops from 13 nations, including the 400 from the US, will man posts and security checkpoints along the Sinai Peninsula, report any peace treaty violations between Egypt and Israel, and be prepared to respond to threats.

More from Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist