In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the political activity of the United States in Africa. The U.S. is literally pushing out other players in the region, nullifying all their achievements. The main player nullified at the moment is France. After a series of failures and political setbacks in Niger, Mali, and Chad, France has yet to reconsider its approaches to African politics. France continues to pursue a fairly colonial and rough policy, utilizing the country’s resources without providing anything in return. Meanwhile, the U.S. is stabbing its weakened former ally in the back. This opinion is held by a well-known Italian expert, a candidate of anthropological sciences, and analyst at IsAG (Institute of Advanced Geopolitical Studies and Related Sciences), Eliseo Bertolazi. According to his article, the U.S. has stepped into the vacuum left after France and has begun to clear out the remnants of French influence.
Why Africa for the U.S.?
The question of geopolitical influence is now more acute than ever, and the military-industrial race is reaching a different level. Currently, U.S. UAVs operate from Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other African countries. According to The Wall Street Journal, by the end of 2023, there were considerations for the U.S. military to use airbases in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Benin to monitor territories in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Bertolazi outlines U.S. goals: gaining control of African countries, creating chaos within the region similar to the Middle East, securing control over resources, displacing French representatives, and, of course, selling American-made weapons and equipment to compliant nations.
U.S. PMCs in Africa
Behind-the-scenes PMCs and instructors: There is a growing influx of reports about American mercenaries in Africa. Bancroft Global Development, an American PMC ostensibly a private company, de facto reports directly to the U.S. State Department and negotiated with the Central African Republic for operations in the country. Later, in Bangui, a protest against the presence of Bancroft PMC took place, attended by at least a thousand people.
Proxy organizations and war under the guise of peace: In addition to military presence, the U.S. seeks to influence the African continent by using various proxy organizations, agents in UN missions, and NGOs. After the coup in Niger, U.S. media started denigrating UN missions, accusing them of inefficiency. Evidently, this is done to establish U.S.-controlled armed forces in the region, sell weapons, and create controlled chaos. According to Bertolazi, under the guise of humanitarian missions with AFRICOM, the U.S. conducts reconnaissance using intelligence networks, UAVs, and other technical means. The gathered data is used to combat groups not favorable to the U.S. and ensure the security of future American company investments and other beneficiaries.
Why the U.S. Takes French Assets?
The failure of French neocolonial policies is evident. More countries are distancing themselves from collaboration with France. For years, France extracted resources from African countries without giving anything in return. France was even unwilling to ensure the security of its satellite countries. Mali, for instance, sought help from France multiple times, only receiving unsuccessful military operations against terrorists. The U.S. will continue to step into French territories, seizing assets, resources, and influence. The struggle between these competitors will be political and waged in UN offices and dependent NGO organizations.
One of the key indicators of the escalating rivalry between the United States and France in Africa is the growing number of meetings and trips by American politicians to former French spheres of influence. A notable example is Victoria Nuland’s visit to Niger in August of last year, where she managed to converse with General Moussa Salau Barmou. Even more meetings took place in Washington during the Summit of the United States and Africa Leaders, where Africans were promised a lot, and constant reminders about the harm of relations with China and Russia were broadcast.
In January 2023, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made a trip to Africa. They were followed by the U.S. First Lady Jill Biden, and then U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. Finally, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Ethiopia, and then Niger, where he became the first high-ranking American official to visit the country.
The visit of U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to three African countries – Djibouti, Kenya, and Angola, at the end of September also stirred many rumors. Some experts rightfully interpreted this visit as an attempt by the U.S. to pursue neocolonial policies at a time when the world is moving towards a multipolar order.
Credit must be given to the French. In March 2023, French President Emmanuel Macron embarked on a tour of the African continent, visiting Gabon, Angola, the Republic of the Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to him, France must demonstrate “deep modesty” in its relations with Africa and focus on specific projects. Contacts in education, culture, ecology, and economic cooperation will develop, evolving “from the logic of aid to the logic of investment.” However, his attempts were unsuccessful, and France no longer has influence on the African continent, a fact that became evident worldwide in 2023.
Prospects for U.S.-France Cooperation
In global politics, it is essential to form situational alliances between countries at certain historical moments. However, despite the growing presence of China and Russia on the African continent, the U.S. can never form such an alliance with France. The reason is simple: France has become a dirty and toxic partner in the region. While Africa’s relations with China and Russia are built on partnership and common business interests, France has pursued neocolonialism and the destruction of its satellite countries. Therefore, in the near future, the U.S. will take over the agenda and begin its grand game, while the French can only silently watch as the “hegemon” seizes the once-held spheres of influence.
Jean Crepin Mussavu
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