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31 March, 2017

NATO’s war of resources is causing a humanitarian crisis in West Africa

As millions suffer from hunger, disease, illiteracy and grinding poverty in the Lake Chad region of West Africa, a sinister game of resource extraction and exploitation is playing out, with geopolitics at the heart of it all.

by Eric Draitser

Part 6 - U.S. Military Empire Expands Elsewhere in Africa

Recent years have seen other countries in sub-Saharan Africa struggling with terrorism and in desperate need of “assistance” from the U.S. While some might recall the January 2016 attack on a luxury hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital, few know that the U.S. uses the country as a key node in its aerial surveillance and military intelligence network in Africa.

As the Washington Post reported in 2012:

A key hub of the U.S. spying network can be found in Ouagadougou, the…capital of Burkina Faso… Under a classified surveillance program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors have come to Ouagadougou in recent years to establish a small air base on the military side of the international airport. The unarmed U.S. spy planes fly hundreds of miles north to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara.

Of course, these examples only scratch the surface of the vast military and surveillance architecture constructed by the U.S. in Africa over the last decade or so.

With China becoming an increasingly dominant economic force on the continent, the U.S., France and other powers have moved to consolidate their control over both the resources and politics of Africa through militarization. The crisis in Lake Chad is just one of the sad results of these efforts.

It would be incorrect to say that the crisis in Lake Chad is entirely and solely attributable to imperialist intrigue. It must be said that climate change is also playing a huge role, as Lake Chad, once the largest reservoir in the Sahel region of Africa, has lost roughly 80 percent of its total area. The loss of portions of the lake has had a direct negative effect on people’s livelihoods and access to water. This has had the effect of driving desperate young men into the arms of Boko Haram and other criminal groups.

Though the circumstances may be complex, the Lake Chad crisis cannot be fundamentally resolved without addressing the political and geopolitical questions at the heart of it all.

There is a certain dialectical irony in the fact that climate change helps fuel the loss of Lake Chad which, at the very same moment, is being exploited for its oil wealth. There is an almost tragicomic quality to such a reality.

Sadly, it is an all too painful reality for the millions of Africans who live it every day.

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