United States wars in South Sudan, elsewhere in Africa


This video is called Africom: The New American Empire in Africa.

By Peter Van Buren in the USA:

Any More U.S. “Stabilization” and Africa Will Collapse

Monday December 23, 2013 10:39 am

History is just one of those hard things to ignore, especially in South Sudan.

In 2011, the U.S. midwifed the creation of a new nation, South Sudan. Though at the time Obama invoked the words of Dr. Martin Luther King speaking about Ghana (“I knew about all of the struggles, and all of the pain, and all of the agony that these people had gone through for this moment”) in officially recognizing the country, many were more focused on the underlying U.S. motives, isolating the rest of Sudan as part of the war on terror, and securing the oil reserves in the south for the U.S. The State Department rushed to open an embassy in South Sudan, and U.S. money poured in to pay for the new government.

Like his counterparts from Iraq and Afghanistan when the U.S. was still in charge of those places, the new South Sudan president was brought to the White House for photos, all blithely pushed out to the world via the Voice of America. The two leaders were said to have discussed “the importance of maintaining transparency and the rule of law.”

In 2012 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the nation as part of an extended effort at creating B-roll footage for her 2016 campaign, and Obama publicly applauded a deal brokered between Sudan and South Sudan on oil pipeline fees that the White House claimed would “help stem the ongoing violence in the region.”

However, like in Iraq, Afghanistan and so many other places that fell apart while being democratized and stabilized by the U.S. (one also thinks of Libya, itself part of the African continent), the rush to mediagenic proclamations without addressing the underlying fundamentals led only to catastrophe. A scant few years later, South Sudan is at the brink of civil war and societal collapse, the U.S. is evacuating another embassy and indeed one variety or another of “rebels” are shooting at U.S. military aircraft arriving in their country in violation of their national sovereignty. Those who believe that the U.S. efforts in South Sudan do not involve special forces on the ground and drones overhead no doubt will have a nice Christmas waiting up to catch a glimpse of Santa.

Obama, apparently unwilling to remember how he stood aside while an elected government recently fell apart in Egypt, went on to double-down on hypocrisy by stating in regards to South Sudan, “Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of long-standing support from the United States and the international community.”

The Militarization of Africa

If the U.S. efforts in South Sudan were isolated, that would be tragedy enough. However, the U.S. militarization of Africa paints such a sad, similar picture that it bears a recapping here. The always on-track Nick Turse reported:

– In recent years, the US has trained and outfitted soldiers from Uganda, Burundi and Kenya, among other nations. They have also served as a proxy force for the US in Somalia, part of the African Union Mission (Amisom) protecting the U.S.-supported government in that country’s capital, Mogadishu.

– Since 2007, the State Department has given about $650-million in logistics support, equipment and training for Amisom troops. The Pentagon has given an extra $100 million since 2011.

– The U.S. also continues to fund African armies through the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership and its Pentagon analogue, now known as Operation Juniper Shield, with increased support flowing to Mauritania and Niger in the wake of Mali’s collapse. In 2012, the State Department and the US Agency for International Development poured approximately $52 million into the programs and the Pentagon chipped in another $46 million.

– In the Obama years, U.S. Africa Command has also built a sophisticated logistics system, officially known as the Africom Surface Distribution Network, but colloquially referred to as “the new spice route”. Its central nodes are in Manda Bay, Garissa and Mombasa in Kenya; Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda; Bangui and Djema in the Central African Republic; Nzara in South Sudan; Dire Dawa in Ethiopia; and the Pentagon’s showpiece African base, Camp Lemonnier.

– In addition, the Pentagon has run a regional air campaign using drones and manned aircraft out of airports and bases around the continent including Camp Lemonnier, Arba Minch airport in Ethiopia, Niamey in Niger and the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, while private contractor-operated surveillance aircraft have flown missions out of Entebbe. Recently, Foreign Policy reported on the existence of a possible drone base in Lamu, Kenya.

– Another critical location is Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, home to a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment and the Trans-Sahara Short Take-Off and Landing Airlift Support Initiative that, according to military documents, supports “high-risk activities” carried out by elite forces from Joint Special Operations Task Force — Trans-Sahara.

The Failure of the Militarization of Africa

Libya is in flames, Benghazi the only point of attention for Americans while chaos consumes a once-stable country. Egypt, again on the continent though perhaps not of it, saw its brief bit of democracy stamped out by a military coup. The governments of Mauritania and Niger fell to their militaries. Chad experienced a coup, albeit unsuccessful. Fighting continues in Mali and the Central African Republic. In October 2011 the U.S. invaded, albeit in a small way, the Central African Republic In December 2012, the U.S. evacuated its diplomats and civilians. 2011 also saw a U.S.-backed Kenyan invasion of Somalia. U.S. troops are hunting humans in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Like ghosts from the 18th century, pirates haunt the waters off East Africa. The U.S. admits to having 5,000 troops in ten African countries when once there were none.

And So, Why?

The basic rule for any investment is what do you gain in return for risk? It applies to buying stocks as well as investing a nation’s blood, resources and prestige.

In the case of Africa, the U.S. investment has been a disaster. Chaos has replaced stability in many places, and terrorists have found homes in countries they may have once never imagined. The U.S., in sad echo of 19th century colonialism, has militarized another region of the world.

Every rebel and terrorist the U.S. kills creates more, radicalizes more, gives the bad guys another propaganda lede. The more we kill, the more there seem to be to kill. America needs fewer people saying they are victims of America. The Chinese are building cultural ties and signing deals all over Africa, and we’re just throwing up barbed wire. Why?

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Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well, and writes about current events at his blog. Van Buren’s next book, Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percentwill be available April 2014 from Luminis Books.

What is portrayed as a conflict within the world’s newest state is part of the imperialist balkanisation of Sudan to control its oil and mineral wealth: here.

The Communist Party of South Sudan offers a comprehensive political analysis of the background to the present confrontation: here.

In what is likely the worst single mass fatality incident since the outbreak of fighting in South Sudan last month, as many as 300 people drowned when an overloaded ferry that they had boarded to flee renewed clashes sank Tuesday in the White Nile. Many of the victims were women and children: here.

South Sudan government troops try to force their way into United Nations compound: here.

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African refugees protest in Israel


This video says about itself:

14 Oct 2012

Sudanese refugees protest in front of the government’s offices in center Tel Aviv, against the plan to imprison refugees, October 14, 2012.

Israel is building a new facility that could house thousands of additional asylum seekers in the Negev Desert.

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

African migrants take to the streets to demand Israel consider asylum requests

Human rights groups assert open detention center no different from jail. ‘I didn’t come for $3,500,” says one refugee about government exit grant.

By Ilan Lior | Dec. 22, 2013 | 12:20 PM

An estimated 1,000 Sudanese and Eritrean migrants, along with Israeli human rights activists, marched through the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to urge the government to consider the asylum requests of migrants from Africa and release the approximately 3,000 held in Israeli custody.

“I looked into the eyes of the people here with me – everyone has had enough,” said Najmaldin, a Sudanese migrant who took part in the rally and did not want to give his last name. “People want their asylum requests looked into. If someone’s a refugee he should stay here; if someone’s not a refugee he should go back to Africa.”

“We demand a solution from the Israeli government for the people who are currently in prison and for us,” he said. “The people who are in Saharonim and in south Tel Aviv – it’s the same story, the same problems.”

Human rights groups say an estimated 3,000 of the 50,000 asylum seekers in Israel are locked up in the Saharonim detention center in the Negev. The government moved 480 of them to Holot, a nearby open detention facility, after the Knesset approved a legal amendment earlier this month authorizing the open center, where migrants are locked in only at night.

Though they are technically free to leave the premises during the day, they have to be present for roll call three times a day, a restriction meant to prevent them from finding jobs outside the facility. Last week hundreds of migrants marched out of the open center in protest, but were ultimately taken back into custody.

On Saturday, demonstrators marched from Levinsky Park in south Tel Aviv, where many migrants live, to Independence Hall on swanky Rothschild Boulevard. In an unplanned continuation of the protest, the demonstrators kept marching through Tel Aviv and blocked off some of the city’s roads, waving signs reading “Liberty” and “Not another jail.”

Human rights groups have said there is no real difference between the open detention center and a jail. Several of the groups have filed a High Court petition against the law that authorizes the Holot center, as well as allowing the state to hold migrants for up to a year without trial, down from three years.

Police detained two migrants for questioning Saturday on suspicion of attacking a police officer and disturbing the peace, and used pepper spray in an effort to disperse the rally.

Million, an Eritrean migrant who took part in the rally, said race was a major factor in the Israeli government’s treatment of the asylum seekers.

“The Israelis are white, the Africans are black,” he said. “The blood is the same blood. But the government of Israel, a democratic state, is not acting in a democratic manner and is putting the blacks in jail.”

Nazer said Israeli efforts to sway migrants like him to go back to Sudan or to neighboring Eritrea, by offering grants to those who leave the country, would not succeed. The cabinet recently agreed to more than double the amount offered, bringing the grant to $3,500.

“I didn’t come here for $3,500,” said Nazer. “I came here because I’m a refugee. The State of Israel wants to send us back to Sudan and Eritrea. How can we go back? There’s a war there.”

Sometimes it’s kind of scary how Israel treats asylum seekers. From jailing them with no trial to brutal arrests and now, referring to them as numbers. It’s as if they don’t think they’re human beings, with names: here.

Many refugees in Israel are from South Sudan; where there is horrible violence now.

Washington issues warning as South Sudan slides toward civil war: here.

Thousands of Africans, Israelis march in Tel Aviv to demand freedom for asylum seekers: here.

A penal colony for Africans in the heart of Israel: here.

Support Israeli actresses refusing to perform at West Bank settlement: here.

Save British long-eared bats


This video from England is called Rare Grey Long Eared Bat Rescue.

From Wildlife Extra:

One of Britain’s rarest mammals needs greater protection to survive

New research shows just 1000 grey long-eared bats remain in the UK and numbers are declining.

August 2013. Dr Orly Razgour, research fellow at the Biological Sciences unit of the University of Bristol, has called for grey long-eared bats to be afforded ‘UK Priority Species’ status; Dr Razgour stated that “The UK’s grey long-eared bats need greater conservation efforts before we lose them” .

Just 1000 animals, and declining

Dr Razgour is the lead author of a new management plan. It’s based on new research she conducted into the species at the University of Bristol, in collaboration with the Bat Conservation Trust. Her research has shown the estimated population of these bats in the UK is around 1,000 animals and the population is declining. Prior to her study it had been hoped the bats were more numerous, sadly her findings confirm how very rare they are.

Isle of Wight, Channel Islands, South coast and 1 record from Wales

The bats are confined to small pockets along the south coast of England, including the Isle of Wight, with a small number found in the Channel Islands and a single record from South Wales.

Protection for roost sites

The UK grey long-eared bat population comprises two distinct genetic groups and Dr Razgour is concerned that the low numbers mean the future survival of the species in the UK is questionable, unless more is done to protect the remaining few. She calls for more work to identify, monitor and protect maternity roost sites, where female bats raise their young, and hibernation sites.

Dr Razgour said: “Despite being one the rarest UK mammals, up until recently there was very little known about the grey long-eared bat and what it needs to survive. Studying the grey long-eared bat, I realised that the plight of this bat demonstrates many of the threats and conservation challenges facing wildlife, from the effects of habitat loss and climate change to the problem of small isolated populations.

Decline and fragmentation

The UK grey long-eared bat population has been declining and has become fragmented in the past century. This decline and fragmentation is likely to be in response to the dramatic decline of lowland meadows and marshlands, the bat’s main foraging habitats. The long-term survival of the grey long-eared bat UK population is closely linked to the conservation of these lowland meadows and marshland habitats. The conservation management plan is calling to prioritise the conservation status of the grey long-eared bat and use this bat as a flagship species to promote the conservation and restoration of lowland grasslands.”

Lowland meadows and marshland habitat

Lowland meadows and marshland habitats have all but disappeared in the UK following changes to land management and farming practices in the latter half of the last century. As these bats prey on agricultural pests, encouraging these bats in the farmed landscape may benefit the wider farming community if bat numbers increase dramatically.

Traditionally a cave-dwelling species grey long-eared bats have become dependent on our buildings for roost sites. Their roost requirements are specific; they need large open spaces in lofts and barns close to foraging habitat. These roosts are under threat from building development and Dr Razgour is calling for identification, monitoring and protection of roost sites and their surrounding grassland area.

Key findings of Dr Razgour’s research:

The grey long-eared bat should be afforded UK Priority Species status by the statutory bodies: Natural England, DEFRA and JNCC
Maternity roosts and hibernation sites need to be identified, monitored and protected
The landscape around and between roosts needs to be protected to increase grassland foraging habitat

‘Panda Bat’: Researchers Discover New Genus Of Striped Creature, Niumbaha superba, In South Sudan (PHOTOS): here.

Too bright: artificial lights deter bats, threaten forests: here.

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South Sudanese wildlife


The Wildlife Conservation Society in the USA writes about this video, recorded in Southern Sudan:

The enormous migration of gazelle, tiang and white-eared kob across the Boma-Jonglei Landscape is an incredible story of survival in the aftermath of a bloody civil war. We must ensure its survival.