Saturday, December 21, 2013

With Syria and Iran becoming yesterday's news ( from the view of where will the next limited kinetic action occur ) , is Africa the new " hotness for 2014 ? US Aircraft, UN Helicopter Attacked In South Sudan ....... ‘Humanitarian Intervention’ in Central African Republic

US Aircraft, UN Helicopter Attacked In South Sudan

Tyler Durden's picture

With a wave of detente spilling over the Middle East, following the surprising US overture to calm relations with Syria and Iran just months after it nearly launched an offensive war in the country over a few fabricated YouTube clops Looks like Africa will be the next geopolitical hotspot. But while France is the figurehead leading the offensive over west Africa, focusing on Mali and the Central African Republic, where they are "peacekeeping" (with the support of US drones), east Africa appears set for a full-blown flare out, with the Sudan area emerging as the dominant zone of instability and future escalation. Which is perhaps why not only a US aircraft, but a UN helicopter, both came under fire in the Sudan over the past 24 hours in what is assured to generate an "appropriate" response by the US. 
First, Reuters reports about a U.S. aircraft which was by gunfire in South Sudan:
A U.S. aircraft came under fire on Saturday on a mission to evacuate Americans from spiraling conflict in South Sudan and four U.S. military service members were wounded.

Nearly a week of fighting threatens to drag the world's newest country into an ethnic civil war just two years after it won independence from Sudan with strong support from successive U.S. administrations.

The U.S. aircraft came under fire while approaching the evacuation site, the military's Africa Command said in a statement. "The aircraft diverted to an airfield outside the country and aborted the mission," it said.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting that pits loyalists of President Salva Kiir, of the Dinka ethnic group, against those of his former vice president Riek Machar, a Nuer who was sacked in July and is accused by the government of trying to seize power.

Fighting that spread from the capital, Juba, has now reached vital oilfields and the government said a senior army commander had defected to Machar in the oil-producing Unity State.
And just to assure a condemning social response is generated, and the public mood against the South Sudan is sufficiently negative, the AP just reported that a UN helicopter in the region had been downed also following gunfire by local militant:
Two officials have told The Associated Press that a U.N. helicopter trying to evacuate peacekeepers and civilians was fired on and sustained significant damage on Friday in the same restive South Sudan state where a U.S. helicopter was hit Saturday.

Rob McKee of Warrior Security said the U.N. helicopter was hit by small arms fire and made an emergency landing while trying to evacuate personnel from a base in Yuai in Jonglei state. A second official who insisted on anonymity because the information hasn't been released said the helicopter was abandoned and remains unable to fly. No injuries were reported.

A U.N. spokesman didn't answer a phone call or email seeking comment.

U.S. aircraft were fired on Saturday in Bor, the capital of Jonglei. Four U.S. service members were wounded.
Of course, the question is why the US (and, laughably, French) scramble to get involved militarily in Africa now? The answer is easy: as we reported in June 2012, in the rush for Africa China has a multi-year head start in the colonization race. So what short cuts is a self-determined superpower to do to catch up - why find one pretext after another to send a military force and achieve through brute force what China has been able to attain through infrastructure and domestic investing over the past several years.
From June 2012:
"The Beijing Conference": See How China Quietly Took Over Africa
Back in 1885, to much fanfare, the General Act of the Berlin Conference launched the Scramble for Africa which saw the partition of the continent, formerly a loose aggregation of various tribes, into the countries that currently make up the southern continent, by the dominant superpowers (all of them European) of the day. Subsequently Africa was pillaged, plundered, and in most places, left for dead. The fact that a credit system reliant on petrodollars never managed to take hold only precipitated the "developed world" disappointment with Africa, no matter what various enlightened, humanitarian singer/writer/poet/visionaries claim otherwise. And so the continent languished. Until what we have dubbed as the "Beijing Conference" quietly took place, and to which only Goldman Sachs, which too has been quietly but very aggressively expanding in Africa, was invited. As the map below from Stratfor shows, ever since 2010, when China pledged over $100 billion to develop commercial projects in Africa, the continent has now become de facto Chinese territory. Because where the infrastructure spending has taken place, next follow strategic sovereign investments, and other modernization pathways, until gradually Africa is nothing but an annexed territory for Beijing, full to the brim with critical raw materials, resources and supplies. So while the "developed world" was and continues to deny the fact that it is broke, all the while having exactly zeromoney to invest in expansion, China is quietly taking over the world. Literally.

More from Stratfor:
In late July, Beijing hosted the 5th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, during which China pledged up to $20 billion to African countries over the next three years.China has proposed or committed about $101 billion to commercial projects in Africa since 2010, some of which are under negotiation while others are currently under way. Together, construction and natural resource deals total approximately $90 billion, or about 90 percent of Chinese commercial activity in Africa since 2010. These figures could be even higher because of an additional $7.5 billion in unspecified commitments to South Africa and Zambia, likely intended for mining projects. Of the remaining $3 billion in Chinese commercial commitments to Africa, about $2.1 billion will be used on local manufacturing projects. While China has proposed $750 million for agriculture and general development aid and about $50 million to support small- and medium-sized business development in addition to the aforementioned projects, it has been criticized for the extractive nature of its relationship with many African countries, as well as the poor quality of some of its construction work. However, since many African countries lack the indigenous engineering capability to construct these large-scale projects or the capital to undertake them, African governments with limited resources welcome Chinese investments enthusiastically. These foreign investment projects are also a boon for Beijing, since China needs African resources to sustain its domestic economy, and the projects in Africa provide a destination for excess Chinese labor.

‘Humanitarian Intervention’ in Central African 


John Glaser, December 20, 2013
Over at the Huffington Post, I interview Chris Coyne, professor of economics at George Mason University and author of the recent book Doing Bad By Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Failson the humanitarian interventions in Central African Republic.
Here’s an excerpt:
Q: What was your reaction to the Obama administration’s decision to increase support to French and African troops in CAR?
Chris Coyne: Given what I know, it is very predictable. For the past several months the U.S. has been pushing back on UN intervention because of the cost of UN peacekeeping missions. I believe the U.S. would have to pay somewhere in the range of 27 percent of the costs of the peacekeeping mission based on the formula the UN uses. This push back occurred despite the fact that violence was already in full effect and well known. So one way to read the U.S. commitment of resources is as a relatively cheap way to placate the growing push for the UN to intervene. Making a lump sum payment to “support” French and African troops is cheaper than paying a percentage of a very costly peacekeeping mission. People keep pointing out how the U.S. has no strategic or economic interests so that this is purely a morally-based assistance. But in my review the push back by the Obama administration over the past several months shows that it is not about some higher moral principle, but responding to political incentives (cost of UN peacekeeping mission vs. lump-sum payment).
Q: This is an extremely limited intervention compared to other recent actions (Balkans, Libya, etc.). What difference might this make?
CC: Well, the U.S. has limited exposure right now. The worst case scenario is that $100 million is lost or wasted. In the scheme of things this is not much money and U.S. citizens won’t even know about it. Best case some kind of peace is established and then the U.S. government can take partial credit for supporting the effort. More broadly, beyond the U.S., right now the goal of the intervention seems to be to achieve some semblance of peace. But from everything I have read it isn’t that easy. Like most conflicts similar to this this there are no clear “good” or “bad” sides. Further, both sides have weaponry. So there are no clear victims and criminals. In my view, the worst case would be if mission creep sets in and peacekeeping becomes nation building.
Q: Have humanitarian interventions of this sort worked in the past? What does the record say?
CC: The record is mixed. A big problem with the attempts to “measure” success is that different people have different definitions of success.  There is an existing academic literature that looks at peacekeeping missions and judges success based on whether there is a reoccurrence of conflict.  In the literature these are referred to as “traditional peacekeeping” missions since they are relatively narrow and not focused on things like nation building, elections, etc.
The empirical literature finds that traditional peacekeeping missions are effective in preventing conflict if they take place after a ceasefire has already been negotiated by the parties involved. “After” is the key word because there is evidence that peacekeeping missions that take place before a ceasefire is negotiated has no effect (or a negative effect).  Since there is no preexisting ceasefire in CAR, the existing empirical literature would seem to indicate that achieving sustainable peace will be difficult.
Q: What do you expect to come out of the increasingly interventionist approach from the U.S., France, neighboring African countries, and the international community?
CC: I can only speculate, but I predict continued violence and continued “outrage” by the international community. I believe the UN is calling for a peacekeeping force in the range of 7,000-9,000 troops.  Right now there are about 1,600 French troops there. Some humanitarian aid will be delivered but this isn’t surprising — if you spend $100 million, some aid is bound to get there, right? More broadly, I expect lots of “discussion” by the “international community” about the need for “political will” to respond not just to the CAR situation, but future situations as well.
Read the whole thing here.

CAR .....

Violence in the Central African Republic Escalates as President's Family Flees Country

Fragile Lull Is Shattered by Clashes in the Central African Republic

France Finds Itself Alone Again in Central Africa


South Sudan on Precipice of Civil War, Obama Warns

Sudan Fears Spread of South Sudan Conflict Will Affect Oil Flows

South Sudan's Military Loses Control of Town as Fighting Spreads

UN Sends Helicopters to Evacuate Staff From South Sudan Base