While a new geopolitical map is emerging on the fringes of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, Africa stands out with a tendency towards non-alignment. NATO is trying to regain its influence...
When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949, African countries were still under the yoke of colonialism. Most of the founders of the politico-military organization were the main colonizers of Africa – United Kingdom, Portugal, France, Belgium and Italy in particular. It was then for the twelve founding countries to "stop a possible Soviet aggression and the spread of communism". But since the collapse of the USSR, NATO has expanded its list of member states from twelve to thirty.
Today, while Africa is more skeptical of condemnation of Russia for the conflict in Ukraine, the Western press castigates African "Putinophilia". For researcher Paul-Simon Handy, “the poutinophilia of some Africans is first and foremost a rejection of the West”.
Since its creation, NATO had made Africa its sphere of military operations. Kwame Nkrumah already warned in 1967 that there were at least 17 NATO airbases, nine naval bases, three intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch sites and one nuclear test site in North Africa.
In his book Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare, Nkrumah also denounced the looting of mines in the Congo, Angola, Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and South Africa for the construction of Western nuclear weapons.
The West against Pan-Africanism
For the Bissau-Guinean and Cape Verdean independence hero Amílcar Cabral, Portugal, "a rotten appendage of imperialism, the most underdeveloped country in Western Europe, would never have been able to launch three colonial wars without the aid of NATO, NATO weapons and NATO bombs”.
In 1960, in the midst of the Katanga war between the Lumumbists and the Katangese, NATO allowed Belgium, against the condemnation of the UN, to bombard the positions of Congolese soldiers. Patrice Lumumba then castigated this direct interference by NATO, and the apathy of the UN. “Everyone has understood that if the Congo dies, all of Africa will fall into the night of defeat and servitude. This is once again the living proof of African Unity. This is the concrete proof of this unity without which we could not live in the face of the monstrous appetites of imperialism. But between slavery and freedom, there is no compromise,” Lumumba said then.
Three examples of leading figures of Pan-Africanism, who share a common destiny. Nkrumah was deposed by a coup triggered by the American CIA, Cabral and Lumumba assassinated. A recurring theme in modern African history, whenever a leader opposed Western hegemony, he was forcibly removed. Ahmed Sékou Touré died on the table of an American surgeon, where he found himself against his will. Thomas Sankara was assassinated by a future “President Françafrique”, and his presidency was undermined by Western interference. Muammar Gaddafi's Libya was bombed by NATO, and the leader himself assassinated and decried by the Western media.
What interests for a fragmented Africa?
A symbolic value in the eyes of Africans today. While Africa is torn between NATO support and non-alignment, the West is pressuring Africa for a total condemnation of Russia for the Ukrainian conflict.
Already in 1963, Yacouba Zerbo asserted: “Paradoxically considered a poor continent, Africa has always been a key issue for foreign powers”. He explains: “This is why, forced under the pressure of events, Belgium granted independence to the Congo. But she contrived to sow the seeds of disunity there in order to detach from her the richest regions of Katanga and Kasai. The French, for their part, did not intend to give up their influence in the possessions of Africa that successive governments since 1945 suspected Americans and Soviets of wanting to detach from France. Britain was so keen on its interests in Kenya that it declared an atrocious war on the Mau-Mau in order to preserve its interests there”.
The author was above all reporting a Western intervention whose primary objective was to prevent the union of Africa. "The plethora of African political leaders resulting from the colonization of the continent by different metropolises and its fragmentation into multiple independent political entities constitutes a serious difficulty which weighs and will continue to weigh on attempts at regroupment in Africa", he denounced in full Cold War.
NATO, purveyor of destabilization and wars in Africa
Today, is the situation much different? “In Africa, NATO continues to operate under the guise of humanitarian assistance or military training. But violence on the continent has never increased as much as since the referral of the fight against terrorism by the NATO countries, through Africom in particular”, estimates the pan-African network Black Agenda Report.
According to the organization The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP), in 13 years of existence, Africom has been behind nine coups in Africa. A study by the academic journal Journal of Peace Research (JPR) in 2017, based on data from 189 countries between 1970 and 2009 claimed that US military formations increased the risk of military coups. The director of the Institute for Policy Studies Netfa Freeman considered thatAfricom served as a “coup incubator”.
Political scientist Djibo Sobukwe recalls that “the role of the United States and NATO in the destruction of Libya in 2011 is important to highlight. (…) It ultimately resulted in the destruction of the most prosperous country in Africa with the highest human development index”.
American stateswoman Cynthia McKinney, in her book "The Illegal War on Libya", asserts that "the United States-led NATO war against Libya will be remembered as one of the greatest crimes Of the history ". She affirms that “the NATO war in Libya is a crime worthy of the Nuremberg trials”.