Across Africa, Obama Expands Secret Wars, Assassinations

While most of the press has focused on Obama’s military machinations in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, the administration has also been quietly expanding its secret wars and assassination programs across Africa. From training the militaries of various unsavory regimes and boosting the military capabilities of the so-called African Union, to establishing drone bases to facilitate espionage and extrajudicial killings, the White House is literally treating the continent as a vast battlefield in need of perpetual U.S. “intervention.” And the consequences have been deadly.


Additional insight into the White House’s shadowy scheming emerged in late October, when The Intercept published a series of stories on Obama’s mass-murder programs, based largely on leaked documents, under the title “Drone Papers.” One of the articles zeroed in on a semi-secret drone base in the nation of Djibouti dubbed Chabelley Airfield. Of course, The New American and other publications have been reporting on Obama’s African drone machinations in the small African nation since at least 2012. But the new report sheds additional light on what appear to be preparations for lawless war in Africa without end — and without any legal authority or public oversight.


In 2013, Chabelley Airfield was just an isolated landing strip in the desert once reserved for the French Foreign Legion. About 10 kilometers away is a massive U.S. military facility with some 5,000 troops known as the Camp Lemonnier Naval Expeditionary Base, from which some 20 U.S. military flights — drones and jet fighters — were taking off each day by 2012. After a series of U.S. drone crashes around Camp Lemonnier spooked Djibouti authorities, though, the isolated airstrip would take on a new role, being transformed into a major outpost for shadowy and illegal Obama administration activities across the region. According to reports, drones launched from the base can reach Yemen and parts of Saudi Arabia, as well as much of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Egypt.


“This base is now very important because it’s a major hub for most drone operations in northwest Africa,” Senior Fellow Tim Brown, an expert on analyzing satellite imagery, was quoted as saying by The Intercept. “It’s vital.” Brown also noted that the new location allows the White House to keep its drone machinations more secret than the larger and more obvious Camp Lemonnier. “They’re able to operate with much less oversight — not completely in secret — but there’s much less chance of ongoing observation of how often drones are leaving and what they’re doing,” he said.


The emergence of Chabelley Airfield as an important hub for Obama’s drone warfare was not entirely a secret. Indeed, when the U.S. government began shifting its drones from Camp Lemonnier, which was right next to Djibouti international airport, over to the new location, multiple news agencies reported it. Apparently no less than five accidents involving the “MQ-1” Predator drones had occurred since 2011 — and one of those crashed in a residential area in the capital. So, the Pentagon quietly asked Congress for tax funding to build “minimal facilities” for “temporary operations” at the airstrip expected to last no more than two years.


But those two years have come and gone. And not only is the drone base still there, it has expanded massively. According to The Intercept reporter Nick Turse, Chabelley Airfield is now an “enduring” base for the U.S. government and a “key hub for its secret war, run by the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), in Africa and the Middle East.” And while the Obama Pentagon fails to mention it on public lists of U.S. bases, and refuses to answer or even acknowledge questions about it, “official documents, satellite imagery, and expert opinion indicate … that Chabelley is now essential to secret drone operations throughout the region.”


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