Africa: EU and German Bundeswehr interventions

BERLIN german-foreign-policy.com (April 2) – At the EU – Africa summit, beginning today, Berlin and Brussels are pressing forward with the expansion of their military and military policy activities on the African continent. Alongside resolutions on the EU intervention in the Central African Republic (CAR), the program will include negotiations on the further elaboration of EU supervised African security structures. African forces are supposed to apply these measures to implement what Berlin and Brussels consider “order.” According to experts, for insuring one’s influence, it is not necessary to send one’s own combat troops into a “crisis area, to assume presence and supervision.” Therefore, the Federal Republic of Germany supports the African Union (AU) in establishing military structures, and participates in “training missions” in Somalia and Mali. Other measures could be introduced to combat piracy in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, in the foreseeable future, according to a discussion paper. Experts point out that German – European combat missions are intended in Africa, in spite of the African troops. The EU’s military activities are aimed at shoring up Western influence on the continent – against China.

Intervention in the Central African Republic

The EU’s military activities on the African continent are one of the focal points of the EU – Africa Summit meeting beginning today in Brussels. Parallel to the main conference meeting, the EU’s intervention in the Central African Republic (CAR) is scheduled to be set in motion at a “mini-summit,” already today. Just recently, the crisis over the Crimea has led to appreciable delays, because several East European countries had to postpone their engagements to furnish troops. France has now agreed to fill these gaps. Germany is contributing two planes for troop transport, military hardware and a Medevac plane. Otherwise, up to ten German soldiers will be dispatched to Greece to the strategic headquarters for EU troops in Larissa (“Operation Headquarters,” OHQ) and to CAR to the operative headquarters in Bangui (“Force Headquarters,” FHQ). The EU unit is supposed to quickly put a stop to combat between the factions of this civil war and soon be relieved by troops from the African Union. While Paris is seeking to reassert itself as the “regulatory force” in its former colony, Berlin is pursuing strategic interests in CAR.[1]

“Getting Fit Initiative” or E2I

Beyond these day to day political questions, the agenda of the EU – Africa Summit will also include negotiations on how to move forward with the establishment of African security structures, following a hardly new concept being currently discussed in Berlin’s foreign policy establishment, known as the “getting fit initiative” or – more in vogue – as the “Enable and Enhance Initiative” (E2I). This concept, according to the latest edition of the journal on foreign affairs, “Internationale Politik,” has been aggressively pushed by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel since 2011, “because the EU and NATO cannot solve all of the security policy problems alone, it is necessary to also hold the regional partners accountable,” explains the journal, in reference to a speech held by the Chancellor at the Commanders’ Conference of the Bundeswehr in the fall of 2012. The journal explicitly points out that using African countries under European surveillance for “the sake of stability” does not necessarily mean a loss of control. “Through their imparted know-how, the European partners” can “have a presence and supervision over the situation in the crisis area,” which provides them access “to information on internal structures” and thereby insures “the contacts to current or potential negotiating partners.”[2]

Maneuver in the Gulf of Guinea

A mission to the Gulf of Guinea is seen as a possible test-run for the “E2I” concept. It had been accepted at the December 2013 EU summit, on the German government’s initiative. Pirates occasionally attack commercial ships in the Gulf, which now, they say, must be immediately stopped. West African countries could be called upon, according to an internal discussion paper, quoted in the “Internationale Politik” article. The EU should “help them develop a regional strategy for combating piracy and armed assaults on the high seas,” and support the “establishment of the facilities in the area of coordination, cooperation and interoperability.” “A joint maneuver of European and West African military forces” could also be helpful, for example the regional “Obangame Express 2014” (“OE-14”), in which the German Navy will participate – under US command. Tied in with this, “a long term EU anti-piracy program for the Gulf of Guinea” could be developed on the basis of regional military forces, within the framework of the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), without having to deploy EU troops in dangerous situations.[3]

AU Security Structures

For several years, Berlin has been similarly demanding the establishment of a security infrastructure by the African Union. In the years from 2008 to 2014, alone, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs has allotted around 159 million Euros for the “African Peace and Security Architecture.” This, for example, has helped support the establishment and the elaboration of regional military and police training centers, particularly the “Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center” (KAIPTC) in Accra, Ghana, which was inaugurated January 24, 2004 with the incumbent German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, in attendance. Berlin, at the time, had already contributed financial aid. Germany is supporting the establishment of the police component of the “African Standby Forces” (ASF) and organized courses and training of African police officers, within the framework of the “Police Program Africa” of the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ) development agency.[4] The “German-French Defense and Security Council (DFVSR) had declared in mid-February that the EU summit beginning today, should further reinforce the AU’s “capabilities” in the area of security.[5] Just last week, during his visit to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Abeba – where the AU has its headquarters – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, declared that Berlin “in the future, will do even more to help with the training of security forces.” In Addis Abeba, Steinmeier also visited a new AU building, which Germany had financed with 27 million Euros and which the GIZ is participating in its construction. It is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2014, and will furnish office space for the AU’s “Peace and Security Department,” the “Peace and Security Council,” and a room for the Situation and Reaction Center.[6]

Military Training in Somalia and Mali

Since some time, the Bundeswehr has been also active in so-called training missions, to groom indigenous forces for tasks in what Germans – Europeans call “maintaining order.” German military personnel have been training soldiers from Somalia, (at first in Uganda, but now in Mogadishu) and from Mali, both in the framework of the EU interventions (EUTM Somalia and EUTM Mali). As the article in “Internationale Politik” points out, these missions demonstrate that even attempts to carry out military activities “for the sake of maintaining order” with the help of African troops, will not be successful without direct EU combat engagement. Even these training activities are principally “dependent on a simultaneous robust security and stabilization mission.”[7] Therefore, in January, Berlin had announced that, in the future, the Bundeswehr would intervene more often in Africa.[8] The power struggle over Ukraine has only pushed this project to the back burner.

Then Otherwise

The expansion of German – European military activities in Africa are taking place at a time when, on the one hand, the United States is preparing for a hegemonic confrontation with China, and therefore is supportive of German – European attempts to “maintain order” on the African continent, from which the US seeks to eventually withdraw. And on the other, Germany and the EU’s economic influence is currently waning – particularly in relation to China. Chinese investments and trade with the African continent are rapidly growing. In 2012, Chinese-African trade was already valued at 150 billion Euros, while German trade with South-Saharan Africa was only at 26.6 billion Euros. Today, Africa can “be more self-confident,” since they are “no longer exclusively dependent on the EU as a partner,” observers note.[9] For the German – European side, the loss of economic dominance is associated with efforts to secure their position otherwise – by military means.

[1] See Deutschland 001.

[2], [3] Jana Puglierin, Sebastian Feyock, Yvonne van Diepen: Ertüchtigen statt wegsehen. Eine deutsche Initiative soll das Krisenmanagement der GSVP verbessern. Internationale Politik März/April 2014.

[4] Frieden und Sicherheit in Afrika. http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de.

[5] Erklärung des Rates des Deutsch-französischen Verteidigungs- und Sicherheitsrates (DFVSR). http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de 19.02.2014.

[6] Äthiopien: Aufbau der afrikanischen Friedens- und Sicherheitsarchitektur. http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de 27.03.2014.

[7] Jana Puglierin, Sebastian Feyock, Yvonne van Diepen: Ertüchtigen statt wegsehen. Eine deutsche Initiative soll das Krisenmanagement der GSVP verbessern. Internationale Politik März/April 2014.

[8] See The Agenda 2020, Germany’s “Act of Liberation” and Der Weltordnungsrahmen.

[9] Europa und Afrika debattieren Freihandel. http://www.dw.de 31.03.2014.

 

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