Tag Archives: colonialism

The Meaning of Forever: permanent military presence

Duqm, Oman. Image from wikipedia

UK Foreign Minister Michael Fallon cemented a raft of military agreements with Oman in August 2017, including the use of an Arabian Sea port for British naval ships.  Fallon visited the sultanate on August 28, 2017 to sign agreements with his counterpart and strengthen the already close military ties between the two countries.  A memorandum of understanding was signed between the two defence ministers to allow British naval ships to the use facilities at Duqm port before the establishment of the UK Joint Logistics Support Base.  “This agreement ensures British engineering expertise will be involved in developing Duqm as a strategic port for the Middle East, benefiting the Royal Navy and others,” Fallon said….Among the craft that will be allowed to dock in Duqm is the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, the largest ship in the British navy.   From Duqm, the supercarrier will be able to “project influence across an important region” the UK foreign office said.

The Joint Logistics Support Base*** will give the UK a “permanent” military presence in Oman, serving as a naval base, training facility, and key logistics centre, the foreign office said on its website.

Also finalised were joint exercises between the two countries, including “Saif Sareea 3” due to take place next year in Duqm.  Oman and the UK have some of the strongest military relations in the Gulf, strengthened after Sultan Qaboos bin Said took to the throne in 1970.  The UK was a key ally in the sultan’s war against communist separatists in the south of the country.  British military officers have traditionally trained the Omani armed forces, while the UK has been a notable arms supplier including the sale of 12 Typhoon “Eurofighters” with the first jets delivered in May

Excerpts from UK secures use of Oman naval base in Duqm, The New Arab, Aug. 29, 2017

***Once completed, the UK Joint Logistics Support Base, a multi-million pound joint venture between British defence company Babcock International and the Oman Drydock Company, will provide the UK a permanent training facility in addition to a key military logistics centre in the Gulf. It will also be connected to other Gulf countries by the Gulf Rail Project.

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

New Colonisers Hunting the Pirates

Flag of the British East India Company (1801)

Times are tough and getting worse for Somali pirates, as their targets take countermeasures. The number of attacks off the Horn of Africa tumbled from 236 in 2011 to no more than 72 in 2012, according to the International Maritime Bureau, a body that monitors crime at sea.

Now a private naval effort is adding to their woes. A company called Typhon will use a 10,000 tonne “mother ship” to accompany convoys of merchant vessels. With 60 mostly armed, mostly British ex-soldiers on board, it will deploy speedboats and unmanned drones to watch and intercept hostile boats.  Anthony Sharp, Typhon’s boss, says customers will find that more efficient than putting armed guards on every ship. It will also spare them keeping guns on board (which is tricky in law). Typhon plans to have three large ships by the year end, with at least one based in the Gulf of Guinea, a hotspot for pirate attacks last year, and ten by 2016.

Its backers include Simon Murray, a former foreign legionnaire who is now chairman of Glencore, a commodities giant due soon to merge with Xstrata, a mining behemoth. The new outfit will be a big potential customer for Typhon. But Mr Sharp downplays comparisons with Britain’s East India Company, which ran a private empire with its own navy. His is “actually quite a boring business,” he claims. Not for the pirates.

Piracy: Privateers,Economist, Jan.12, 2013, at 54