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Africa: U.S. Covert Action Exposed

by Eric Ture MuhammadFinal Call
April 25th, 2001

Corporate greed, combined with a desire to never allow the "throne of civilization" to unite and become self-sufficient, continues to join at the hip the U.S. Government, the United Nations and corporate cartels in a persistent war on Africa, a recent congressional hearing concluded.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) chaired the hearing, "Covert Action in Africa: A Smoking Gun in Washington, D.C.," and led the voices of castigation that claimed the U.S. Government, the UN, private militias and western economic interests possessed complete knowledge of pending civil unrest in Africa and fed the fray between African nations. Their aim was to use war, disease, hunger and poverty as covers while continuing the centuries-old practice of rape and exploitation of the continent's human and mineral resources, testimonies charged.

Among those named as collaborators during the daylong hearing were U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeline K. Albright and international diamond merchant Maurice Tempelsman.

Mr. Tempelsman, whose role in the confluence of public policy and private profit as a middleman for the De Beers diamond cartel, according to submitted evidence, helped to shape practically every major covert action in Africa since the early 1950s. Declassified memos and cables between former U.S. presidents and State Department officials over the last four decades named Mr. Tempelsman with direct input in the destabilization of Congo, Sierra Leone, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Rwanda and Ghana.

He earned his stripes with western powers in the overthrow of Ghana's first elected president, Kwame Nkrumah, and the CIA-backed assassination of Congo's first-elected president, Patrice Lumumba, documents reveal.

As late as 1997, Mr. Tempelsman was named in the ongoing cover-up of U.S.-CIA covert support of the former president of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC]), Mobuto Sese Seko, who died in exile in 1997 after the overthrow of his regime by recently assassinated Congolese President Laurent Kabila. Mr. Tempelsman is named as the agent in charge of selling off the gross excess of the strategic diamond stockpile in the United States that was used to fund the deceased dictator's exploits. According to documents entered into evidence, Mr. Tempelsman was rumored in 1998 to have engaged in a romantic relationship with then-Secretary of State Albright.

During the hearing, Ms. McKinney said the legacy of former Pres. Clinton and his foreign policy toward Africa is one of grave deceit. She charged that not only did his administration turn a deaf ear to the genocide that occurred in Rwanda under his watch, but that everyone who aided in the silencing were rewarded with promotions.

"Look at Madeline Albright. At the time U.N. Ambassador, she got promoted to secretary of state," she charged. "Susan Rice, over at the National Security Council, she got promoted to assistant secretary of state for Africa. Kofi Annan, whom The Carlsson Report [a United Nations inquiry] makes 19 observations, of which 17 blame Kofi Annan, and yet [he] gets a promotion to secretary-general and is about to be re-elected as secretary-general."

Rep. McKinney also blasted International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Judge Louise Arbor, who, shortly after suspending the investigation of the April 1994 rocket attack on the presidential plane that killed Presidents Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, was awarded a Canada Supreme Court appointment.

"America's policy toward Africa during the past decade, rather than seeking to stabilize situations where civil war and ethnic turmoil reign supreme, has seemingly promoted destabilization," testified Wayne Madsen, author of "Genocide and Covert Activities in Africa 1993-1999."

Ms. Albright was fond of describing as "beacons of hope" those pro-U.S. military leaders in Africa who assumed power by force, Mr. Madsen said. "These leaders, who include the current presidents of Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Angola, Eritrea, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), preside over countries where ethnic and civil turmoil permit unscrupulous international mining companies to take advantage of the strife to fill their own coffers with conflict diamonds, gold, copper, platinum and other precious minerals including one that is a primary component of computer microchips," he said.

Mr. Madsen said the United States played more of a role in the Rwandan tragedy than it admits, citing the U.S.-backed Rwandan and Ugandan-led invasions of Congo. Speculation behind the recent assassination of Pres. Laurent Kabila and the rapid visit to the United States by his successor and son Joseph Kabila at the same time as a visit by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, coupled with meetings with Corporate Council for Africa and a lavish dinner-reception thrown by Maurice Tempelsman has done little to put America in a favorable light in the region, the author asserts.

"After all, the date of Kabila's assassination [Jan. 16, 2001] was practically 40 years from the very day of the CIA-planned-and-executed assassination of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba," he concluded.


When policy and profit converge

"This is a western syndicated proxy war and, like Sierra Leone, Angola and Sudan, it is war-as-cover for the rapid and unrestricted extraction of raw materials, and war as a means to totally disenfranchise the local people," said Keith Snow, freelance writer and journalist who supplied investigative reports for the panel.

Diamonds, gold, cobalt, manganese, petroleum, natural gas, timber and possibly uranium, he said, are just a few of the major spoils being pillaged behind the scenes as war destroys Africa. "Some of these minerals are almost solely found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," Mr. Snow said.

One of those minerals, columbium tantalite, or "Col-Tan", is a primary example of the role strategic minerals play in sustaining war. This scarce mineral is found almost exclusively in Eastern Congo and used by western nations in everything from aircraft engines to computer chips.

"Economic interests are a significant factor in the fighting in the DRC," said Bill Hartung, of the World Policy Institute in New York. In his co-authored report "Deadly Legacy Update: U.S. Arms and Training Programs in Africa," the researcher acknowledged the significant role economic interests play in the fighting in the DRC and throughout Africa.

"Africans need western technology, investment and cooperation to transfer minerals. Africans do not process these minerals; they are processed in the west. Africans are not dependent upon minerals used in high-tech industry, sophisticated defense projects, or materials used in space exploration. The west, and particularly the United States, is dependent upon the availability of strategic minerals, many of which the U.S. does not produce. Africa does not have a vibrant market for diamonds, which are cut and distributed in the west," he said.

Western corporations are aware that revenues from mineral exploitation received by African countries involved in war are used to purchase military equipment. Considering the history of a strong U.S.-led corporate presence in Africa, it is quite likely that U.S. mining interests have benefited from the war, concluded the panel.

This may also explain the interest of American Mineral Fields International (AMF), which, according to Mr. Snow, is a classic case of cronyism. The company secured a $1 billion mining deal for cobalt and copper before Laurent Kabila came into power. According to Mr. Snow, the deal was secured through a shared interest; namely Pres. Clinton. AMF's chairman at the time of the deal was Mike McMurrough, a native of Mr. Clinton's hometown of Hope, Arkansas. Mr. Snow also alleged that Mr. Clinton has financial interest in AMF. Former Pres. George Bush Sr. was also cited at the hearing for his advisory board membership at Barrick Gold, Ltd., for which he used his connections with the CIA, having once been director of the spy agency.


The UN's failure

The Carlsson Report, released one year ago, is an independent inquiry into the UN's actions during the 1994 Rwanda genocide presented to the UN Security Council by the report's chairman Ingvar Carlsson. The report condemns the Security Council for not preventing the systematic slaughter of over 800,000 men, women and children in Rwanda, which occurred within a 100-day period between the months of April and July of 1994. The UN's decision to reduce the strength of the mandated United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) after the genocide started, despite its knowledge of the atrocities was the cause of much bitterness stated his report.

"The failure by the United Nations to prevent and, subsequently, to stop the genocide in Rwanda was a failure by the United Nations system as a whole," said the report. "There was a persistent lack of political will by Member States to act, or to act with enough assertiveness. This lack of political will affected the response by the Secretariat and decision-making by the Security Council, but was also evident in the recurrent difficulties to get the necessary troops for the UNAMIR. Finally, although UNAMIR suffered from a chronic lack of resources and political priority, it must also be said that serious mistakes were made with those resources which were at the disposal of the United Nations," Mr. Carlsson said.

A similar report released by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) last July also singled out France, Belgium, the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches along with the United States and UN as those most guilty and demanded "a significant level of reparations" be paid.

According to Mr. Carlsson, Mr. Annan as Under Secretary General was made privy to a Jan. 11, 1994 cable which leaked information concerning a plot hatched by the Interahamwe militia to kill Belgian soldiers, force the withdrawal of Belgian troops and dispatch Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) soldiers, who were Tutsi by ethnicity, to Kigali camps "for their extermination." The informant said that his personnel were able to kill up to 1,000 Tutsi soldiers in 20-minute intervals and that a cache of weapons with at least 135 G3 and AK 47 assault rifles were at their disposal.

"He was prepared to show UNAMIR where these weapons were located in exchange for his family's protection," said the report.

The report said Mr. Annan wrote a letter to then-UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutrous-Ghali's special representative in Rwanda, stating that the information contained in the cable was cause for concern, but insisted the information be handled with caution. The original cable was filed into archives and Mr. Boutrous-Ghali said that he was not shown a copy of the cable until much later. Several such communications, the report alleges, were similarly ignored.

"The Secretary-General responded to the Carlsson Report by saying that he received it with deep regret and agreed with the report's findings," said Fahran Haqq, a spokesman for Mr. Annan at UN headquarters in New York.

On Apr. 6, 1994 Presidents Habyarimana and Ntaryamira flew back together from a reportedly successful sub-regional peace summit where, according to Tanzanian officials present, Pres. Habyarimana had committed his country to implement the Arusha Agreement, a UN peace accord. At approximately 8:30 p.m., the plane was destroyed by rocket fire as it approached its landing at Kigali's airport. Everybody onboard died, thus officially unleashing the civil war that engulfs the Great Lakes Region today.

Mr. Haqq denied comment on Ms. McKinney's allegation of UN collusion and told The Final Call that, since Mr. Carlsson's report, Mr. Annan has been the greatest voice behind the UN's Brahimi Report, a wide-ranging, seven-part resolution containing recommendations and decisions on peacekeeping missions, which must be the responsibility of the Secretary-General. Further, it urges prospective parties to peace agreements, including regional and sub-regional organizations, to cooperate fully with the United Nations from an early stage in negotiations. It mandates the Secretariat to continue comprehensive political briefings on relevant issues before the Security Council and requests regular military briefings from the Secretariat, including by the military adviser, the force commander or designate, before the establishment of a peacekeeping operation.


What should Africa expect from Mr. Bush?

No one during the hearing expressed any optimism that things will fare better under a Bush Administration. Mr. Bush did state during his campaign that Africa was not a major area of national security interest to the United States; his key advisors have suggested otherwise.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has expressed interest in Africa but has not defined in any detail what those interests are outside of resolving the conflict in the Sudan.

The new threat to development in Africa has become recent decisions by Pres. Bush to appoint Walter H. Kansteiner III as assistant secretary of state for Africa. He has expressed desire to draw new territorial boundaries on the continent. Also still in the works are the enactment of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act that was passed into law before the expiration of Pres. Clinton's term and the Zimbabwe Democracy Act 2000, a sanction measure against the rights of Black Zimbabweans' claims to land ownership in their own country. That bill is currently engrossed in Senate debate.





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