UMA rejection frustrates U.S. efforts to find home for AFRICOM
www.chinaview.cn 2007-11-29 14:10:27   Print

    TUNIS, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. efforts to seek a home for the Africa Command (AFRICOM) have suffered one more blow as the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) stated strong opposition Tuesday to any foreign military establishments on the soil of African countries.

    The UMA, founded in 1989 by Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Moroccoand Tunisia, said through its consultative committee that such foreign establishments would not bring any benefit to the UMA or the African Union countries.

    Instead, they will risk catastrophic results for host countries and might be used as an excuse for certain factions to launch attacks on organizations of foreign, especially U.S., interests.

    The rejection was not the first to U.S. plans to find a host country for its military headquarters in Africa, approved by President George W. Bush in February.

    Many African countries, starting from those in the north of the continent, have already made it clear that they would not host the AFRICOM or provide permanent bases for the U.S. forces.

    Nations including Uganda, Algeria, Libya and the 14 members of the Southern African Development Community all refused to provide a home for the headquarters.

    Analysts said refusals from so many countries showed that African nations have reached a broad consensus on rejecting the U.S. military headquarters for fears of sacrificing their own sovereignty.

    Even though the United States tries to present the AFRICOM as a helping hand offering aid and training, the Africans are afraid that the United States intends to militarize its foreign policies under the banner of combating terrorism.

    Another major concern is that the AFRICOM could be followed by more U.S. bases and troops on the African continent. The United States currently has about 1,800 troops at a counter-terrorism task force base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa.

    Analysts said some governments fear that enlarged U.S. military presence might lead to interventions into their sovereignty, citing examples of the toppling of Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

    Oil is also a major concern. In 2006, Africa's oil exports to the United States reached 2.23 million barrels per day, surpassing that from the Middle East region for the first time in 21 years.

    The United States wants to secure oil flows from a continent that is already a key source of U.S. energy imports in a volatile world, analysts said.

    Hosting more U.S. facilities and personnel could also risk the African countries becoming targets of global enemies of the United States.

    As many African countries hold that Africa's affairs should be dealt with through the African Union rather than being meddled in by a foreign force, the U.S. plan to expand military presence on the continent will most likely be opposed by most of the Africans, the analysts said.

    Development and the relief of poverty, not more U.S. troops, are what the Africans need the most, they said.

Editor: Du Guodong
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Arab Maghreb Union opposes foreign military establishments in Africa
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