Shadow War in the Sahara

Added: 07-03-2018

Since 1960, the US has become an increasingly powerful player in African politics, with the incentive of claiming more oil. In the last decade, the US has dramatically increased its military presence, vying to control the oil resources of the Sahel, which have been projected to attract $2 trillion in investments over the next 20 years.

natural resources Africa United States (US) military pan-Africanism fight War Nelson Mandela oil Sahel (sub-Saharan Africa) The New Scramble for Africa neocolonialism

Type Reading Time Author Date Source
article 5 minutes AL JAZEERA 05-13-2017
Type Reading Time
article 5 minutes
Author Date
al jazeera 2018-07-03 00:00:00 UTC
Key Takeaways
  • The US has been involved in African oil resource control since the 1960s. 
  • Pretenses for US military intervention in Africa have shifted from Cold War era justifications to combating terrorist threats. 
  • Regardless of justifications, there is a consensus is that the reasons for intervention in Africa is caused by the Sahel region’s wealth of oil resources.


This Al Jazeera article is one of a group of articles that came out in 2017 detailing the drastic increase in United States (US) military presence in Africa, though it takes a distinctly more historical approach. To begin, the US has been a key player for notably personal reasons in the region. 

The US was first attracted to Africa in the 1960s, following the fall of formal colonialism, to gain influence and ultimately claim African resources. The result was multiple manipulative military operations that overthrew and propped up regimes that supported its interest. Following a failed military operation in Somalia in 1992 and the 9/11 (2001) attacks, the US has centered much of its African operations on ostensibly combating ‘terrorism.’ 

Pan-Africanists, from Muammar Gaddafi to Nelson Mandela, have strongly opposed US invasion of Africa or involvement of any kind because they see it as a neocolonial attempt to control and abuse Africans and African resources. 

However, some countries have allowed the support of US missions due to the growing threats of terrorist activity. Increased drone bases and military personnel suggest the US is vying to be the global leader over oil resources in the continent (especially the Sahel region), which could total $2 trillion in investment over the next 20 years. 

The article reminds readers that in this ‘new scramble for Africa,’ resources have only become more scarce than they were at the time of the Berlin Conference: “More than 130 years after the Berlin Conference, a new division of the African continent is underway as new powers seek to ensure oil supplies, strategic minerals, arable land and even the water under the desert sands.”