Around Africa


PORT HARCOURT/PRETORIA/MOGADISHU (Own report) - A NATO naval unit's trip around Africa is preparing the alliance's new military operations. The German Navy is also a participant. The military expedition of the "Standing NATO Maritime Group 1" (SNMG-1), that is already in progress, is qualified as historical by the alliance. Military maneuvers with African armies are planned, alongside the reconnaissance of African territorial waters. Rather than "exercises", the SNMG-1 announces it will carry out nondescript "presence operations" for several crisis regions, which are but partially covered by parliamentary mandates. NATO declares that these measures are in preparation for the security of mercantile trade routes and oil transports on the open seas. It has been negotiating with several European oil companies about intervening to protect production sites in Nigeria, the first stopover of this NATO operation. The Indian Ocean and the Red Sea are also viewed as possible theatres of intervention.


As NATO explains, the trip around Africa broadens its radius of intervention "far beyond the traditional areas of operation."[1] The two-month "exercise cruise" is meant to gain knowledge of the situation off the coast of Africa and test the logistics of the alliance. The SNMG-1, with also a German warship participating, is one of four naval units on permanent alert and a component of the NATO Response Force (NRF), a rapid deployment force. The flagship is the USS Normandy, that launched numerous "Tomahawk" cruise missiles during its first deployment against Iraq in 1991 and in the mid-'90s participated in NATO operations off the coast during the break-up of Yugoslavia.

War for the Companies

SNMG-1, which set sail off the coast of Spain at the beginning of August, will make its first stopover in the Gulf of Guinea on the Nigerian coast. For years, rebels have been attacking the western oil companies' production sites and kidnapping their employees.[2] Companies such as BP and Shell have had to pay a high price in losses. NATO leaders recently made known that they were negotiating with both companies. "In Nato, we are looking very actively at using our maritime resources, to see how we can link up with oil companies,"[3] explained Jamie Shea, the director of political planning of the military alliance and former spokesman during NATO's war on Yugoslavia. NATO's concept foresees the intervention of western naval units in Africa and Asia to prevent sabotage to the pipelines ("terror attacks") and kidnappings. At present the oil producing nations, Qatar and Nigeria are included in this planning.

Dress Rehearsal

NATO views the current SNMG-1 operations in the Gulf of Guinea, as dress rehearsals. Last year already the military alliance, with sizable German participation, carried out a major maneuver off the coast of the Cape Verde Islands, with the scenario of a future combat engagement against rebels in the coastal areas.[4] At the time NATO denied any connection to concrete war plans. Today the commanders of SNMG-1 are told to "get an idea of the maritime activities" off the coast [5] - the next step to concretely preparing combat operations. The NATO measures in the Gulf of Guinea are not being described as exercises but as "presence operations." They want to "show their presence" the Defense Ministry in Berlin confirmed to Considering the situation, conflicts with rebels cannot be excluded. Eventual retaliatory action taken by the naval unit has not been mandated by the German parliament.


"With visits and joint maneuvers," according to the German navy, the trip around Africa is to "strengthen the relations to navies in the region."[6] Whether this was supposed to also be the case with Nigeria, was not to be learned before publication. Germany has drawn Nigeria into a military cooperation and values the hegemonic claims raised by the country, that has developed military ambitions in West Africa [7] as a potential subordinate in the German policy toward Africa. Germany has a similar military cooperation with South Africa, the continent's politically and economically most powerful nation. German military (Bundeswehr) units, already in the past, have carried out bi-national maneuvers with units of the South African army. Germany has furnished weapons to South Africa's Navy.[8] In addition, the militaries of both countries have agreed upon an exchange program, to train German military doctors for combat missions.[9] Following the SNMG-1's "presence operation" in the Gulf of Guinea, joint maneuvers will be held with the South African military, in preparation for joint combat operations in the future.

Port Sudan

After the stopover at the southern cape of the continent, the journey continues through the Indian Ocean - past the Seychelles to the Horn of Africa. Here, as off the coast of Nigeria, "presence operations" are also planned, the SNMG-1 ships will "join the anti-terror operations at the Horn of Africa and off the coast of Somalia."[10] Within the framework of "Operation Enduring Freedom" (OEF), NATO has already taken control of the stretch of water off the coast of Somalia, insuring free passage to the geo-strategically important Red Sea and Suez Canal for transports of merchandise and raw materials. Also in September "brief operations" of the SNMG-1 are planned in the Red Sea - relatively close to the port city Port Sudan. It is from here that the People's Republic of China loads onboard four-fifths of the oil being produced by Sudan.[11]

All Over The World

The SNMG-1 will terminate its trip around Africa in the Mediterranean, where it will be joined by the ships from "Operation Active Endeavor," initiated October 26, 2001, for the military surveillance of Mediterranean civilian maritime traffic. This is exemplary for the extension of NATO's control exercised over important maritime routes and coastlines all around the African continent. This control is in contravention of the international right of freedom of maritime travel and is based on fake regulations. The objectives of the western military alliance reach far beyond. As the SNMG-1 announced, it intends to "react rapidly and flexibly to crisis situations and protect maritime interests" - "all over the world."[12]

[1] Standing NATO Maritime Group 1: Africa 2007;
[2] see also Aufmerksam verfolgen
[3] Landeinsatz vom offenen Meer; taz 26.07.2007
[4] see also New wars in Africa
[5] Standing NATO Maritime Group 1: Africa 2007;
[6] NATO: Mit dem Auslaufen aus Rota (Spanien) hat am 4. August die bisher ungewöhnlichste Reise eines NATO-Einsatzverbandes begonnen;
[7] see also Hegemonic Rivalry
[8] see also Future operations
[9] Im südafrikanischen Soweto befindet sich das Baragwanath Hospital, das größte Krankenhaus der Welt, in dem neben südafrikanischen Militärs auch Bundeswehrärzte tätig sind.
[10] NATO: Mit dem Auslaufen aus Rota (Spanien) hat am 4. August die bisher ungewöhnlichste Reise eines NATO-Einsatzverbandes begonnen; See also Gesamtstrategie, Sonderbericht, Interests of the Superpowers and Adequate Persistence
[11] see also Hegemonic Rivalry
[12] Standing NATO Maritime Group 1: Africa 2007;