Blindspot #039 – Resource Wars (incoming): US African Command (AFRICOM) sets up shop in Zambia

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Blindspot #039 - Resource Wars (incoming): USA's African Command (AFRICOM) sets up shop in Zambia

Blindspot #039 – Resource Wars (incoming): US African Command (AFRICOM) sets up shop in Zambia

Buiteboer // From Bunker 42

www.buiteboer.co.za 

09/06/22 

This week we continue, more or less, on in similar vein to the theme of military aid provided to the Ukraine, covered in Blindspot #038. Only in this case we take a look at the African continent. It is well known that the African continent often come in the cross-hairs of external powers, due to strategic natural resources. 

While the world’s attention is focused on the Ukraine conflict, and particularly the global fall-out thereof in the form of historically high energy, food, and generalised inflation, it is necessary to look at the larger balance- and presence of foreign military forces in Africa. Blindspot predicts that in the not too distant future strategic access to African commodities and resources will become a strategic headache for African decision makers. 

I – AFRICOM sets up shop in Zambia 

Jeremy Kuzmarov, Managing Editor of Covert Action Magazine, writes in an article entitled, “The Sun Never Sets: Why Is AFRICOM Expanding in Zambia?,” that on April 25, 2022, the U.S.A announced that its African Command military structure, AFRICOM, will open an “Office of Security Cooperation,” at the U.S. Embassy in Zambia. 

Kuzmarov indicates that, “According to AFRICOM, the new Office of Security Cooperation will “enhance military-to-military relations [between AFRICOM and Zambian armed forces] and expand areas of cooperation in force management, modernization and professional military education for the Zambian security forces.” The Zambian Business Times also covered this announcement, at the time.

For example, in the age of everything E, meaning Electric Vehicles, Robotics, Renewable energy, Battery systems, and such, copper remains a hugely strategic resource, hence it is no surprise that Zambia is of great interest to major foreign economic powers. And Zambia is the world eighth largest producer of this metal. Jeremy Kuzmarov argues some interesting points regarding US interests in Zambia:

  • “The U.S. interests and motivations underlying the AFRICOM expansion in Zambia are not hard to discern. As CAM previously reported, Zambia is one of the world’s leading producers of copper, which according to a recent Goldman Sachs report, Copper is the New Oil, is crucial in the transition to a clean energy economy.”
  • Copper is a key electrical conductor and component for solar and wind power plants, electric vehicles and batteries, and energy-efficient buildings.”
  • “Hichilema was favored by the U.S. State Department in Zambia’s August 2021 election because of his pledge to boost domestic refining capabilities and loosen regulations and lower taxes on foreign mining companies operating in Zambia to enable a $2 billion expansion of copper production.”
  • “One of the big beneficiaries of the new policies is Barrick Gold, a Canadian company which owns the $735 million Lumwana copper mine in Solwezi and is poised to expand its operations.”
  • BlackRock is also a major investor with J. P. Morgan Chase in First Quantum Minerals , which owns 80% of the Kansanshi mine in Zambia’s Copperbelt, the largest mine in Africa, along with the Sentinel mine in Kalumbila.”
  • “BlackRock further invested in Glencore and Vedanta Resources, which own additional Zambian copper mines and, like the others, have checkered records when it comes to workers’ rights and the environment.”

II – Foreign military presence on the African continent

In terms of the broader African environment it is noteworthy that Kuzmarov indicates, 

“Today, AFRICOM sustains ties with 53 African nations and provides a cover for an estimated 9,000 U.S. troops stationed in Africa and at least 27 military bases.”

The Institute for Security Studies, for example, provides a map in an article from 2019, in which it is argued: 

“Of the 13 countries with a known presence in Africa, the United States (US) and France have the most troops on the continent. According to the French Ministry of Defence, France has an estimated 7 550 military personnel spread across the continent in various military operations and missions (excluding UN operations). The US has a higher number spread across 34 known outposts across the Northern, Western and Horn regions of Africa.”

A map of US Counter Terrorism activities for the period 2017-2018, is also quite instructive to show the extent of US military bases, operations, training, and other activities. In this period, across Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, the US maintained: 

  • 40 Military bases
  • 65 Counter terrorism training partnerships & deployments
  • Staged 26 US military exercises
  • Engaged in combat operations in 14 countries 
  • Conducted air and drone strikes in 7 countries 

At this moment in world history, where, as we’ve indicated on Blindspot before, we are seeing a ‘tearing apart’ of the world system into a West, and an increasingly integrated Eurasia. Economic War actions against Russia have accelerated and intensified efforts to de-dollarise trade, and to establish alternative financial system platforms to the western dominated SWIFT system. 

One of the consequences of Europe, for example, cutting itself off from Russian supplied oil, and natural gas, will inevitably be a rush for alternative supplies. But, further down the rabbit hole it is necessary to understand that foreign military bases, and military deployments often follow mysterious paths linked back to specific global interests. 

Links 

Jeremy Kuzmarov. 2022. Black Skin, White Mask. Covert Action Magazine. https://covertactionmagazine.com/2022/06/03/black-skin-white-mask/ 

Jeremy Kuzmarov. 2022. The Sun Never Sets: Why Is AFRICOM Expanding in Zambia?Covert Action Magazine. 9 May, 2022. https://covertactionmagazine.com/2022/05/09/the-sun-never-sets-why-is-africom-expanding-in-zambia/ 

Stephanie Savell and 5W Infographics. 2019. This Map Shows Where in the World the U.S. Military Is Combatting Terrorism: The infographic reveals for the first time that the U.S. is now operating in 40 percent of the world’s nations. January, 2019. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/map-shows-places-world-where-us-military-operates-180970997/ 

Donald Mumba. 2022. US to open Africa Command – AFRICOM office in Zambia. 26 April, 2022. Zambian Business Times. https://zambianbusinesstimes.com/us-to-open-africa-command-africom-office-in-zambia/