August 21, 2014
By Saeed Shabazz
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
Incensed by the news that President Barack Obama gave $10 million to France to fight terrorism in three of its former African colonies, Minister Menelik Harris, of the Atlanta-based World African Diaspora Union, sent out an email message demanding that Obama keep his “terror money.”
Menelik suggested that the president of the U.S. should instead “give us our trillions of dollars in reparations to rebuild Africa as one union government to protect our enslaved, devastated and scattered people.”
Aug. 11, website The Hill announced that Obama directed the $10 million in foreign aid to France to assist in “counter[ter]rorism operations on the African continent to target terror groups.” The article stated that money went to support a French counterterrorism operation code-named “Barkhan,” which would prevent the establishment of a “jihadist” foothold between Libya and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Hill quoted a deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, as saying the U.S. was “very focused on the threat of terrorism in Africa.”
Obama issued a short statement concerning the money from his vacation spot on Martha’s Vineyard, located off the Massachusetts coast. “I hereby determine that an unforeseen emergency exists that requires immediate military assistance to France in its efforts to save Mali, Niger and Chad from terrorists and violent extremists,” said Obama.
“This shows that U.S. and French imperialism is alive in Africa, and that they are the real terrorists,” Sara Flounders, co-founder of the International Action Network, told the AmNews.
Observers say that in Mali, France has intervened to prop up the Bamako government to put down the aspirations for independence in Azawad, where the Tuareg have called for their own state.
In the corridors of the United Nations, there are suggestions that France continues to show that colonialism is not dead and that France’s colonialism is purely economic. One example cited at the U.N. is that France wants to charge other U.N. member states an “airfield service” fee in northern Mali. The French mission to the U.N. was asked to comment but had not responded as of AmNews press time.
The French have also refused to respond to questions from the U.N. press corps concerning the purchase of a $40 million jet by Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, which was criticized by the International Monetary Fund.
An IMF spokesman, Gerry Rice, explained to the press at the U.N. on May 22 that his organization was “concerned” about the “quality” of recent decisions by the Keita regime, including the purchase of the airplane.
Emira Woods, the global client principal for social impact programs at ThoughtWorks, a technology firm committed to social and economic justice, explained to the AmNews that the U.S. and France have “prioritized military efforts in Africa.”
Woods, who also serves as an associate fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Policy Studies, argues that the U.S.-French relationship is purely economic. “Both nations are interested in the resources in the region,” she said.
Understand that 70 percent of energy in France is nuclear, Woods stated. Analysts say that oil-rich Mali and Niger also have huge uranium deposits. The French nuclear company AREVA has just reportedly signed a new lease with the regimes in Niger and Mali. Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters in Niger have been demanding transparency concerning the new lease agreement, which they say does not benefit the people.
Some analysts say that AREVA may have agreed to give up a number of tax breaks and a 12 percent increase in royalties to the government.
Chad’s role in all of this has been to supply troops for the French-led intervention in Mali. The regime, led by President Idriss Deby, has proven to be an indispensable ally to Western powers looking for allies in the Sahel, according to the Foreign Military Studies Office website OE Watch.
Woods, addressing the recent U.S.-Africa Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., stated that the “vast resources in Africa cannot be extracted to benefit the 1 percent.”
On Aug. 9, the Washington Post editorialized, “Sadly, the summit dealt little with human rights improvements that would sustain Africa’s growth.”
“I don’t see any of this as a hopeful sign for Africa,” Woods told the AmNews.