Which States Meddle in African Countries and Why

Negroland and_Guinea with the European Settlements 1736

External [states]…often come with predefined programmes and they tend to interfere when things do not develop as they would like to see it….Analysis of the security activities of seven major actors in Africa—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations—shows an increasing use of multilateral approaches, support for the ‘Africanization’ of African security, and the privatization of external security support. These are the main findings of a new SIPRI monograph edited by Olawale Ismail and Elisabeth Sköns and supported by the Open Society Foundation.

Data on Chinese security activities in Africa are difficult to obtain. UN data on peace operations show a strong growth in Chinese contributions to UN peace operations in Africa since 2000. SIPRI data on transfers of major weapons show that China’s arms transfers have focused on a few large deliveries to 2–3 countries at a time (e.g. Namibia, Sudan and Zimbabwe in 2004-2008; and Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana in 2009–13) and have increased significantly since the early 2000s…. China’s arms sales to some  countries, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sudan and Zimbabwe, have come under scrutiny from human rights advocacy groups and Western governments…

France has a long-term engagement in African security affairs, especially in the countries it previously colonized.…  France still retains significant military capacities in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a major contributor of troops and logistical support for military operations in Africa and a trainer of African military and security forces. Rather than renouncing its role as a key actor in Africa’s security, France has found alternative and more cost-effective ways to remain influential.

Russian security-related activities in sub-Saharan Africa seem to have intensified in recent
years. These include arms transfers, military training, peacekeeping and anti-piracy
operations, and are primarily undertaken in areas that developed strong links with the
Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s (i.e. the Horn of Africa and southern Africa).
However, there are also signs of intensified security relations with states across subSaharan Africa that have relations with Russian firms involved in mineral exploration and
exploitation.  Russia is the largest supplier of major weapons to sub-Saharan Africa apart from South Africa, accounting for 30 per cent of the total in 2009-2013.

British security activities in Africa have been placed within a security and development framework and pursued at arms length: the UK has provided training for African forces and support for security sector reform (SSR) and peacebuilding efforts, while committing few troops to peace operations.  The main exception to direct British military involvement in Africa during the 2000s is the UK’s bilateral intervention in Sierra Leone in 2000, which involved a total of 2500 British troops, backed by a naval force. The UK has also participated in EU NAVFOR, the
multilateral anti-piracy operation that was launched under the auspices of the EU in 2008.
While the SSR agenda is relatively new, British involvement in training African armed
forces has been ongoing since the colonial era.

US policies  have included the initiation of counter-terrorism programmes in east Africa and the Sahel in 2001 and of maritime security programmes in east and west Africa during the 2000s; the establishment of a military base in Djibouti in 2002 and the gradual implementation since the early 2000s of a basing system providing access to African military facilities.  The increased US strategic view of Africa is reflected in the establishment in 2008 of AFRICOM, a separate unified military command for Africa,…

Excerpts from SECURITY ACTIVITIES OF EXTERNAL ACTORS IN AFRICA, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Nov. 25, 2014

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