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 zero money 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.