The establishment of UAV-bases in Ethiopia, Yemen and Seychelles is supposed to support American war against Islamic terrorism in Somalia and Yemen – a decent task, though the US never implement anything just for one purpose. Drones are a crucial set for reconnaissance, alongside with offensive activities – and the way this branch is developing in the USA demonstrates that very soon the range of UAV’s mission objects will extend.
In fact, Mr. Axe’s post reminded me about American drones in Libya. As far as I’ve understood, this drones were operated from U.S. Navy warships, and it’s clear that in case of any other military conflicts with the US involvement in this region it would be better to have a permanent drone base. However, their MISO guys conceal well whether the largest American military installation in Africa – Camp Lemmonier possesses it’s own UAV wing or not.
Since the beginning of the conflict I’ve decided to hold the position that there was merely a political background for this war. But being interested in the warfare and defence technologies as I am I did not consider the economical reasons, and specifically the amount of commercial interest of non-NATO states. According to the data, provided by the Chinese Trade Ministry, more than 75 Chinese companies had been working in Libya before the war began. After the conflict had escalated about 30,000 of Chinese personnel were evacuated from the war zone. Obviously, the US wouldn’t have managed to perform such an effective ‘economic air- strike’ if there had been no Gaddafi-threat.
By the way, China has began its economical invasion into Africa a long time ago. It had given concessional loans to certain African dictators and military juntas and sponged some of those debts afterwards. The main areas of Chinese influence on the continent are Algeria, Angola, Sudan – countries that occupy the highest positions in the list of African oil exporters. Right now, such companies as Sinopec and CNPC actively pump money into Nigeria, which is one of the main African oil sources. The USA cannot afford the growth of Chinese partnership with these countries, otherwise they will lose their dominant position of a leading oil importer.
After the South Sudan had gained independence, many territories rich in oil were lost for its northern neighbor and as a consequence – for China. There still are disputable border territories between these two countries, for example – South Kurdufan and Abyei and in case of conflict, it is very likely that China will support its ally.
And the Chinese bonds with Sudan and other abovementioned states bring us back to the US drone bases that will help fighting terrorism in Yemen and Somali. Why?
Firstly, oil from Sudan is transported to China via the sea routes which are frequently disturbed by pirates. The US and Great Britain struggle with pirates primarily on their own and try to block up the intentions of other countries to participate in this process on the UN-level. Is it not advantageous for them to lose control over Somalian buccaneers when they attack a Chinese ship?
Secondly, the Chinese government negotiates terms of building a military base with the government of the Republic of the Sudan. The idea is to establish a military installation in Darfur. If the US take such an intent into account then the drone base in Ethiopia becomes a ‘must have’.
Finally, the US are interested in Nigerian oil. China has strong ties with Nigerian government. Chinese oil giants actively engage in crude oil production on the territory of this country. Nigerian separatists regularly assault personnel of this companies. Maybe there is a connection between the assaults and the US interests?
Though my speculations on this topic are hypothetical and a bit biased by media, the fact that the USA and China are in process of enforcing their positions in Africa is evident. China has a dominant role in Southeast Asia and obtaining the same role in Africa would make it a super power in the very sense of this expression. The USA is a super power in the very sense of this expression. Stabilizing the control over Africa and obtaining the dominant role in Southeast Asia would make it even more powerful.