ACRI stands for Africa Crises Response Initiative and it was set up during the Bush Jnr Administration as a counterweight to the Nigeria led ECOWAS Monitoring Group on the Liberian Civil War or ECOMOG as it is more popularly known.
ACRI came to being from the secret reports and recommendations separately by the Africa-America Institute and the Brookings Institute commissioned by the Central Intelligence Agency, the American Government’s Directorate responsible for organizing foreign subversive activities, on the Liberian civil war and the intervention of ECOMOG.
Both reports zeroed in on the pivotal role Nigeria was playing in the ECOMOG initiative and noted pointedly the phenomenal success recorded by ECOMOG in containing the Liberian crisis without any significant role or intervention from any of the major western powers including the United States.
The report concluded that should ECOMOG be allowed to go the whole hog, the major beneficiary will be Nigeria and that might form the basis for a pax Nigeriana in the West African sub-region eclipsing the influence of former colonial powers France and Britain.
The reports also called on the United States Government to note that Liberia being its creation should not be allowed to fall into Nigerian hands with consequences to US strategic interests in the country and the region. Specifically both reports noted that should Nigeria be allowed to have a foothold in Liberia, it will further embolden Nigeria to challenge the US and the West in carving its own sphere of interest at their expense.
In this regard, the report further recalled Nigeria’s role in helping to liberate the southern African countries in the 70’s and 80’s in clear opposition and defiance to the interests of the United States and its western allies which resulted in setback for Western initiatives in Africa at the time.
Both concluded with a recommendation that the US Government in conjunction with its allies should seek to contain the growing influence of Nigeria in the sub-region by forming a parallel organization to ECOMOG. But in order not to unduly alarm and antagonize Nigeria which the report admitted still had considerable influence in the region, the US government was advised to go about this using quiet diplomacy.
During the secret congressional hearing organized to consider the reports by both institutes on Nigeria’s role in the ECOMOG, the interagency team comprising representatives from the CIA, Pentagon and State Department formed to push the case, endorsed the recommendation that Nigeria be kept out of the alternate arrangements on Liberia that was being proposed.
The strategy was to win away some key African countries from participation enthusiastically in the ECOMOG initiative. The sweeteners for this were the promise and delivery of military and humanitarian aid. This was the line the then US Secretary of State Warren Christopher pursued when he visited a number of African countries excluding Nigeria to sell the ACRI idea.
Thus ensued, the stalemate in ECOMOG operations with some of the participating countries foot dragging in their commitment to the force and operations. On the diplomatic front, the US along with its allies namely Britain and France using the engineered stalemate as cover, proceeded to sell the idea that the ECOMOG initiative needed to be reviewed and given a new direction.
The US and its allies then argued that the intervention of outside powers such as the US and its western allies was the tonic needed to move the ECOMOG operation forward. But in order to prevent any worldwide backlash against this blatant interference in what should be a regional African initiative, the US and its allies sought to present it under the auspices of the United Nations with a select Asian and Latin American countries participating.
By the time the tallies were counted, the US had achieved the one objective of all the diplomatic and strategic maneuvers; the containment of Nigeria led ECOMOG initiative to resolve the Liberian Crises.
It was on the platform of this surreptitious American intervention in the Liberian crisis that the US Africa Command or AFRICOM was formed.
Here’s a question for you: Can a military tiptoe onto a continent? It seems the unlikeliest of images, and yet it’s a reasonable enough description of what the U.S. military has been doing ever since the Pentagon created an Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007. It’s been slipping, sneaking, creeping into Africa, deploying ever more forces in ever more ways doing ever more things at ever more facilities in ever more countries — and in a fashion so quiet, so covert, that just about no American has any idea this is going on. One day, when an already destabilizing Africa explodes into various forms of violence, the U.S. military will be in the middle of it and Americans will suddenly wonder how in the world this could have happened.
Over the last few days I feel I have been swimming furiously against the #Kony2012 tide. The campaign launched by Invisible Children encourages Americans to lobby American cultural icons and policy makers into putting pressure on the US government to send troops to Uganda to capture leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Joseph Kony. Without a doubt Kony deserves his place on the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Most Wanted list. Under his leadership the LRA have terrorized Northern Uganda, maintaining a culture of institutionalized violence present in Uganda since its inception by the British Empire. Under the guise of spiritual conviction Joseph Kony and the LRA have waged a war that has resulted in the killing and physical mutilation of thousands and performed disgraceful acts of sexual violence including rape and recruiting young girls into sexual slavery. Abducting child soldiers into the LRA has played an important role in leveraging power in Northern Uganda and lawless border regions of the DRC, Central African Republic and South Sudan. So far all collaborative efforts from Ugandan, Congolese, Sudanese and Central African governments and pressure from the UN, ICC and other international bodies have failed to bring Kony to justice.
The destruction of the LRA in Northern Uganda has led the region to be ostracized from relatively growing socio-economic prosperity in the South of Uganda. According to the World Health Organisation (2007) there are still an estimated 900,000 internally displaced Northern Ugandan’s with limited access to food, healthcare, water and sanitation. My maternal family is from Northern Uganda and although we are largely based in Kampala I decided to take a trip to Gulu in 2008 and I remember being taken aback by the sheer number of NGO’s operating in the region. You have NGO’s on every corner scrambling for the space in a similar manner to the way you have a Starbucks and McDonald’s on every corner in London. Behind the veneer of charity, you have real people and real communities who after a generation of civil war are in the process of rehabilitation. Kony and the LRA have not been active in Northern Uganda since 2006 and today the focus in the region is now on resettlement and reconstruction by providing access to education, psychological rehabilitation, training for young adults who were captured by the LRA as children, community reconciliation and emotional and spiritual empowerment. #Kony2012 is not a campaign that supports any of these objectives.
As a piece of neo-colonialist marketing #Kony2012 is brilliant. However, if you are concerned with accuracy and content it is disturbing. Taking Joseph Kony and the LRA outside of a national, geo-political and historical context and excluding Ugandans from the advocacy process will not end the violence of the LRA or prevent future conflicts in Uganda. What the campaign does is simultaneously appeal to the ego and the heart of the international community and gives the impression that lobbying for US military presence in Uganda (despite Kony having fled) will dismantle the LRA – just like that, magic! A Twitter user captured the campaign perfectly when he said he never thought you could blend together the Heart of Darkness and Glee. Yet, traditional responses to the war in Northern Uganda have been military action from Museveni’s government and traditionally this has failed. For example, Museveni’s Operation Iron Fist in March 2002 where he attacked LRA bases in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan failed, leading to devastating attacks on civilians by the LRA. Recent peace in the region is considered a blessing and according to Professor Samuel Tindifa of Makerere University, requires a regionally specific solution that includes building a politically and ideologically mutually beneficial relationship between the government and the political leadership of the Acholi and Langi communities. A growing US military presence in Uganda is not on the list of needs to make the country a safer and better place. If money should be spent lobbying any government it should be on lobbying the governments of Uganda, South Sudan, DRC and Central African Republic to utilize their intelligence to capture Kony. The leadership of these governments must be held to account instead of sovereignty being outsourced to twitter and facebook enthusiasts who cannot point to Uganda on a map let alone engage with sustainable conflict resolution. The video itself does not mention Museveni which makes me question its viability as an awareness and advocacy tool.
A U.S. Marine fires a M777 howitzer during a battle drill on Arta Range, Djibouti, Nov. 3, 2013.The Marines are assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Battalion Landing Team. A five-person gun crew can fire as many as five rounds per minute.
During an interview, an AFRICOM spokesman once expressed his worry to me that even tabulating how many deployments the command has in Africa would offer a “skewed image” of U.S. efforts. Behind closed doors, however, AFRICOM’s officers speak quite a different language. They have repeatedly asserted that the continent is an American “battlefield” and that — make no bones about it — they are already embroiled in an actual “war.” According to recently released figures from U.S. Africa Command, the scope of that “war” grew dramatically in 2014. In its “posture statement,” AFRICOM reports that it conducted 68 operations last year, up from 55 the year before.
Thanks for your concern but calling for America rather than Nigeria to take action does more harm than good, says Jumoke Balogun
Simple question. Are you Nigerian? Do you have constitutional rights accorded to Nigerians to participate in their democratic process? If not, I have news for you. You can’t do anything about the girls missing in Nigeria. You can’t. Your insistence on urging American power, specifically American military power, to address this issue will ultimately hurt the people of Nigeria.
Here’s the thing though, when you pressure western powers, particularly the American government, to get involved in African affairs and when you champion military intervention, you become part of a much larger problem. You become a complicit participant in a military expansionist agenda on the continent of Africa. This is not good.
You might not know this, but the United States military loves your hashtags because it gives them legitimacy to encroach and grow their military presence in Africa. Africom (United States Africa Command), the military body that is responsible for overseeing US military operations across Africa, gained much from #KONY2012 and will now gain even more from #BringBackOurGirls.
U.S. Marines exit a MV-22 Osprey during an embassy reinforcement exercise at a training area near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Battalion Landing Team ¼, performed riot control and force protection during the training scenario. The 13th MEU is deployed with the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group as a theater reserve and crisis response force including supporting Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
The Washington Post has posted a striking map by Adam Taylor of 13 contiguous countries, Nigeria to Somalia, like a belt across the heart of the African continent, east to west, where there are at least small numbers of American troops engaged in actual military operations of one sort or another. This is a striking visual and fits well with the work that Nick Turse has been doing at TomDispatch on the U.S. military “pivot” to Africa. Tom
“President Obama’s announcement that United States has deployed 80 troops to Chad came as a surprise to many. But as my colleague Craig Whitlock points out, the United States already has boots on the ground in a surprising number of African countries.
"This map shows what sub-Saharan nations currently have a U.S. military presence engaged in actual military operations.
"It should be noted that in most of these countries, there is a pretty small number of troops. But it is a clear sign of the U.S. Africa Command’s increasingly broad position on the continent in what could be described as a growing shadow war against al-Qaeda affiliates and other militant groups. It also shows an increasingly blurred line between U.S. military operations and the CIA in Africa.”
Niger has given permission for U.S. surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters in northern Mali and the wider Sahara, a senior government source said.
The U.S. ambassador to Niger, Bisa Williams, made the request at a meeting on Monday with President Mahamadou Issoufou, who immediately accepted it, the source said.
“Niger has given the green light to accepting American surveillance drones on its soil to improve the collection of intelligence on Islamist movements,” said the source, who asked not to be identified.
The drones could be stationed in Niger’s northern desert region of Agadez, which borders Mali, Algeria and Libya, the source said.
A spokesperson for the United States’ African Command (AFRICOM) declined to comment.
Three of the dead were American commandos. The driver, a captain nicknamed “Whiskey Dan,” was the leader of a shadowy team of operatives never profiled in the media and rarely mentioned even in government publications. One of the passengers was from an even more secretive unit whose work is often integral to Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which conducts clandestine kill-and-capture missions overseas. Three of the others weren’t military personnel at all or even Americans. They were Moroccan women alternately described as barmaids or “prostitutes.”
Who decided in 2007 that a U.S. Africa Command should be set up to begin a process of turning that continent into a web of U.S. bases and other operations? Who decided that every Islamist rebel group in Africa, no matter how local or locally focused, was a threat to the U.S., calling for a military response? Certainly not the American people, who know nothing about this, who were never asked if expanding the U.S. global military mission to Africa was something they favored, who never heard the slightest debate, or even a single peep from Washington on the subject.