By Thomas Gaist
Widespread and deepening famine is threatening the lives of tens of millions across large parts of sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Analysts describe the outbreak of mass hunger as completely historically unprecedented and warn that record-breaking levels of malnourishment and starvation are overwhelming the capacity of existing humanitarian infrastructure.
Tens of millions people, including 17 million Yemenis, 7 million Nigerians, 3 million Somalis and 1 million South Sudanese, are in imminent danger of dying from lack of adequate nutrition, according to United Nations (UN) estimates. Countries impacted by famine and food shortages include South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
In Somalia, where the Trump administration announced the deployment of regular US ground troops for the first time since 1994, the price of a 20-liter can of water increased from 4 to 40 cents during the past few weeks alone. Somalia is experiencing record rates of child malnutrition and faces the die off of 75 percent of its livestock, according to Save the Children.
The Yemen war, waged by the United States and Saudi Arabia since April 2015, has transformed one of the most ancient societies in the world into the ground-zero of world famine. Some 20 million Yemenis are now on the verge of starvation. The naval blockade of Yemen’s ports, enforced by American and Saudi ships, is strangling the flow of goods into a country that depends on imports for 90 percent of its food supply. The US-Saudi bombing campaign has relentlessly targeted Yemen’s social infrastructure, completely paralyzing its economy and turning 80 percent of its population into paupers. The approval by Trump of a Navy SEALs raid into Yemen, as his first official military action, has signaled his intention to expand direct US participation in the war.
The response of Africa’s national elites to the famine has been intensified social attacks against their own populations. The US-backed governments of Djibouti, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia have slashed food rations in recent months. The US-backed South Sudanese government is employing starvation as a weapon against ethnic minorities, and has “actively blocked and prevented aid access” to famine-stricken areas, the UN said.
In the teeth of a world-historic famine, instead of food deliveries, the White House is organizing expanded war throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Trump has approved “increasing American military pressure” in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Central African Republic, Chad and Somalia, according to Breitbart News, a web site with close ties to the American President.
Last week, Trump approved the sale of fighter jets to Nigeria, signaling his intention to escalate the US proxy war in Nigeria. Now in its seventh year, the war has already displaced some 2.5 million, and transformed northern Nigeria into one of the worst famine hotspots on the continent.
The American military is deploying “advisors, intelligence, training, and equipment” throughout West Africa, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) commander General Thomas Waldhauser announced in comments March 24.
Last week, Waldhauser hosted dozens of African military officers for discussions at the AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. The purpose of the US Africa Command Chiefs of Defense (CHoD) meetings is to recruit “liaison” officers from African governments who will be permanently stationed alongside US commanders in Europe, coordinating joint US-African military operations on the continent.
AFRICOM’s military presence in Africa is geared to crush the mass social opposition to Africa’s national governments and militaries that will inevitably arise out of the famine and other manifestations of the deepening economic and social crisis.
“On the African continent, when you have, you know, the top 50 poorest countries on the planet. Obviously the migrant problem is a huge issue,” Waldhauser remarked.
The American military is “war-gaming procedures to work in a famine-type environment,” the top US Africa General said.
Aside from its role in policing the increasingly restive African population, the continuous expansion of AFRICOM’s war operations on the continent is aimed at seizing the continent’s most strategic resources and infrastructure. The huge potential profits to be coined out of the labor-power of Africa’s working class, and the untold trillions in mineral wealth buried in its lands, are greedily sought after by the American and European ruling elites. Africa has been at the center of the military and strategic aggression waged by the Western powers against the entire former colonial world since the end of the USSR.
The past two-and-a-half decades of the so-called “post-colonial” era have witnessed a renaissance of colonialism. Thousands of US and European troops and commandos now rampage freely on the continent, establishing proxy armies and organizing the toppling and murder of numerous African leaders considered insufficiently compliant with US imperialism’s line.
The alternative between socialism and a new round of imperialist barbarism is posed most starkly on the African continent, the birthplace of the human species. Only a unified mass movement of the entire African working class, leading behind it the oppressed peasantry, can drive the imperialists from the continent and resolve the urgent social problems facing the masses. Such a movement requires the building of sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International, the only genuine socialist leadership in existence, in every country of Africa.