An American Wind Blows Into Africa

By Hassan Tahsin, Arab News Opinion, Al Jazeerah, 11 August 2003

The American president backed by the arrival of the American fleet off the Liberian capital, Monrovia, called on Liberia's President Charles Taylor to stand down and be tried for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone. This is a confirmation that the US desires to command the world using the threat of its military might.

The occupation of Liberia under the pretext of saving it from civil war is the natural result of the American administration's desire for a weighty presence inside Africa that will enable it to take over a great number of African markets as well as Africa's natural wealth.

South Africa, Botswana, Uganda, Nigeria and the Senegal were vital in the American president's tour of Africa last month. They all raised important issues:

The US gave the African continent special attention in 1997. During his tour in 1998, Bill Clinton set out the first of a number of specific goals. The first was that American-African partnership should replace aid. The second was the abolition of the governing regimes \u2014 all of whom had been closely allied to the former USSR \u2014 and replacing them with regimes loyal to America rather than to the former European imperialists.

The third goal was the exploitation of the natural wealth of the continent \u2014 oil and raw materials. The US currently imports 15 percent of its oil needs from Africa and a large amount of raw uranium.

On his trip last month, Bush took with him the threat of terrorism and the fight against it, which has dominated America's policies since Sept. 11 \u2014 especially because the US was targeted in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. During the strictly diplomatic tour, Bush didn't come into contact with the public. He dealt with issues and demanded action on matters that serve America's security, strategic and economic interests.

Not wanting to repeat the confrontations that occurred because it invaded Iraq without a UN Mandate, this time the administration put the Liberian problem to the UN, agreed that African peacekeeping forces would be involved, and agreed to discriminate between government forces and rebels in Liberia. This would happen under the leadership of Nigeria, which would receive its orders from America under the umbrella of the American fleet.

This indicates that the American administration will deal with African issues in a new way and with a new understanding, unlike the way it has dealt with oil-rich countries. The reason is that African countries are poor. Direct and unilateral interference is considered economic suicide.

Any costs in Liberia will not be reimbursed because Liberia lacks not only the oil wealth of Iraq but any other source of wealth as well.

Nevertheless, Washington will not abandon its aspirations to gain control of Africa's potential and will try to take the place of the old imperialists who developed and became wealthy thanks to the riches they stole from Africa.