Obama’s Hidden African Agenda
For an administration that prides itself in never letting a crisis go to waste, the Ebola outbreak is seemingly offering the perfect opportunity to achieve a long-time Western goal – to build up a U.S. military presence in Africa in the face of growing Chinese investment and influence on the continent.
President Obama recently announced that an estimated 3,000 U.S. forces will join the U.S. Africa Command, or Africom. The stated goal of those forces, according to a White House release, is to establish a Joint Force Command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to “provide regional command and control support … and facilitate coordination with U.S. government and international relief efforts.”
Obama’s plan to fight Ebola in West Africa calls for $500 million to be added to this year’s Overseas Contingency Operations for “humanitarian assistance” in West Africa. Some estimates say the actual cost will exceed $750 million.
While the personnel sent to Africa will undoubtedly aid in containing the Ebola outbreak, there may be ulterior motives for their deployment. In August, the World Bank documented that economic growth in resource-rich Sub-Saharan Africa rose to 4.7 percent in 2013 and is estimated to burst to 5.2 percent by the end of 2014. The rise has been aided by international investment in natural resources and infrastructure, the World Bank noted.
The Washington Post in August reported that in recent years China “has arguably become the most formidable of the foreign players in Africa,” with China in 2009 surpassing the U.S. as Africa’s largest trading partner. Indeed, Chinese trade with African countries was nearly double that of the U.S. in 2013, with China doing $200 billion in business that year compared to about $110 billion between Africa and the U.S. that same year.
The Obama administration has sought to expand U.S. influence in Africa, with the president hosting an Africa summit and traveling to the continent last year. Also, as the Post noted, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker more than doubled the size of her department’s presence in Africa, bringing Commerce’s African offices to a total of eight countries. Still, that number pales in comparison to China’s commercial offices in 54 African nations.
Until the Ebola outbreak, Africom only had approximately 2,000 assigned personnel, with the command’s headquarters located in Stuttgart, Germany. Obama’s Ebola directive now sends 3,000 personnel to a base in Africa and calls for establishing a new Joint Force Command in Monrovia, Liberia, working with international partners.
A long-term goal of Africom was always to establish a major base inside Africa.
Interestingly, a recent survey of attitudes of African nations showed that only a crisis like Ebola could help persuade skeptical countries on the continent to accept an increased Africom presence. In 2010, pollster and political scientist A. Carl LeVan analyzed more than 500 African news reports, finding, according to his stated conclusion, that “support for AFRICOM corresponded with greater aid dependence, and that countries sustaining high levels of growth with less foreign aid were more critical of AFRICOM.”
LeVan stressed the heavy influence of the African news media and its role in supporting or opposing an increased Africom presence.
Last month, the All Africa news agency reported that African countries were cracking down on media outlets amid the Ebola outbreak, leading to complaints from news outlets and local civil rights activists.
Turkey Secretly Helping ISIS
The Kingdom of Jordan says it caught more than a dozen members of ISIS who disclosed during interrogations that they received training from NATO member Turkey.
A senior Jordanian security official who spoke on condition of anonymity told KleinOnline that 16 ISIS members were nabbed in recent days attempting to infiltrate Jordan from the Syrian border.
The official said the ISIS jihadists had planned to carry out attacks against the moderate Jordanian regime, sparking fears that the ISIS insurgency will spread beyond Iraq and Syria to Jordan, a key U.S. and Israeli ally.
The official said the ISIS jihadists admitted upon interrogation to being trained in Turkey. While such confessions, which could have been extracted under duress, cannot necessarily be relied upon, there have been other allegations of Turkish support for ISIS.
A senior Egyptian security official told this reporter that Turkey is providing direct intelligence and logistical support to ISIS. The official said that Egypt has information that Turkish intelligence is passing satellite imagery and other data to ISIS, exposing s the positions of Kurdish fighters and the storage locations of their weapons and munitions.
The official also confirmed reports that Turkey released ISIS terrorists from jail in a sweeping deal with the jihadist organization that saw the release of 49 hostages from the Turkish embassy in Mosul who were being held by ISIS.
While some news media reports say Turkey may have released at least 180 ISIS terrorists in the deal, including two British jihadists, the Egyptian official said the number of ISIS terrorists released by Turkey was closer to 700.