CIA activities in Africa

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North Africa[edit]

1966 National Intelligence Estimate on the Maghreb[edit]

The 1966 National Intelligence Estimate on the Maghreb states as its goal, "To examine and assess trends and problems of the individual Maghreb states and of the area as a whole over the next two or three years." It continues "The three Maghreb states share a certain sense of identity, but this tends to be overshadowed by the differences between them. Some modest forms of economic cooperation are developing, but over the next few years nothing approaching economic integration or political unity is in sight." See the individual countries for details on the estimates pertaining directly to them.

"France will continue to be the single most important foreign influence in the Maghreb. The cultural link is likely to persist for some time, and France is the principal trading partner of each of the three countries. Algeria will continue to be the most favored by French subsidies and other economic aid, though throughout the area these will decrease over the longer term. None of the Maghreb countries is likely to become closely involved in the affairs of the Eastern Arab or sub Saharan African states."

"Both Morocco and Tunisia have border disputes with Algeria, and both fear that Algeria may try to dominate North Africa. Algeria, on the other hand, fears that Morocco and Tunisia, backed by Western powers, might attempt to encircle it. These attitudes have contributed to a North African arms race, with Algeria receiving large amounts of Soviet arms, and Morocco and Tunisia pressing for extensive military aid from Western powers, particularly the US. Algeria's military capabilities are now greater than those of Morocco and Tunisia combined, and we believe Algeria would seek additional Soviet arms if a major build up of Moroccan or Tunisian forces occurred.

"Despite the tensions among the Maghreb states, none is likely to mount a deliberate major armed attack against a neighbor during the period of this estimate. Limited border conflicts may occur, but they would probably be localized and of short duration."[1]

1972 FRUS summary[edit]

"Early in President Richard Nixon's first term, officials monitoring U.S. and North African relations had grounds for some satisfaction. U.S. ties with Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya were firm. Although Algeria had not yet resumed diplomatic relations broken during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, its economic links with the United States were expanding. Yet for all North African governments, friendly or otherwise, the Arab and Israeli issue complicated relations with Washington. The conflict was a major factor in continuing Algerian resistance to reestablishing formal ties with Washington. In Libya, a military junta, pledging internal reform and espousing Arab nationalism and the Palestinian cause, overthrew the unpopular pro western monarchy in September 1969. Thereafter, the administration’s concern over Israeli sensibilities influenced its decision not to fulfill its aircraft contract with the Libyan government, to the detriment of U.S. and Libyan relations. In Morocco, Washington was allied with King Hassan, partly for his "moderate" stand on issues like the Arab and Israeli question. Yet as Hassan moved Morocco towards more representative government, he warned that Morocco’s firm support for the United States could change. Even Tunisia, a staunch U.S. ally, pushed Washington for a more energetic pursuit of Middle East peace, but was disappointed.[2]

"The challenge for the North African states was to forge beneficial relations with the United States, the USSR, and France, while still maintaining their independence. Washington's support of Israel, however, strained North African and U.S. relations. Regional governments pressed the United States to resolve the Middle East crisis and attempted to defuse the issue themselves. In 1969, Morocco hosted two conferences, one Islamic and one Arab, in an attempt to seize the initiative on the Middle East from Arab "radicals" and bolster its fellow "moderates." Arab nationalists took heart from the Libyan coup in September 1969, and it prompted U.S. officials to reexamine trends and options in North Africa in January 1970.

"U.S. analysts concluded that Algeria and Morocco were likely to remain politically stable in the near future, in the latter case due to King Hassan’s tight grip on power. However, in Tunisia, where the ailing President Bourguiba was likely to step down, and Libya, where an inexperienced military junta ruled, the reports predicted political turmoil. Still, without a major Arab and Israeli war or western disengagement, analysts saw no significant likelihood of Soviet dominance of the area. The National Security Council (NSC) Interdepartmental Group agreed in 1970 that, to maintain its regional interests, the United States should continue an active relationship with all North African governments, but also welcome a Western European presence. Since U.S. influence was limited by Washington’s close identification with Israel, Western Europe, particularly France, could provide the counterpoise to the Soviets in North Africa.


This NIE projects Western security interests for 3-5 years from 1965. "Political and social turmoil is virtually certain during the period of this estimate in most of the states of Sub-Saharan Africa. The general trend in the area--to which there are some exceptions--is probably toward more radical policies, and certainly toward more vigorous manifestations of African nationalism, in a variety of forms.

"The various "liberation" movements in white-dominated southern Africa have made little headway despite considerable emotional support elsewhere in Africa. Meanwhile, white resistance has stiffened. Although most independent African states, as well as the USSR and China, probably will step up assistance to the nationalists, it is almost certain that white governments will command sufficient power and determination to contain "liberation" movements at least for the period of this estimate.

"Economic growth in most areas will be very slow, with setbacks are probable ...There is a desperate shortage of virtually all kinds of technical and managerial skills; indeed, the basic institutions and staff for economic development are often inadequate or absent. is highly unlikely that most African countries will obtain external assistance or investment on anything approaching the scale required for sustained economic development.

"Communists have made substantial progress in expanding their presence in Africa, and the situation will provide them with new opportunities. Western influence in Africa will remain important during the period of this estimate, but it will decline, in part because both the UK and France will gradually shed presently expensive commitments. There is a good chance that a few African states will collaborate closely with either Moscow or Peiping, and become, at least temporarily, highly unfriendly to the West... However, even the militant radicals prize their freedom of movement, and we consider it unlikely that any African country will become a full-fledged Communist state, or will reject all ties with the West.

"African relations with the US will remain ambivalent and difficult. Nevertheless, we do not believe that in most instances difficulties will decisively affect such material interests as the US has in Africa. No African raw materials or other resources are essential to US security. The US is likely to be able to retain the Kagnew facility (A NSA intercept station) at least during Haile Selassie's lifetime. Other less important installations and privileges seem safe during the period of this estimate.[3]

West Africa[edit]

As of now, there are no specific headquarters or office for CIA operations in West Africa but, it is believed they are having projects all around and they are in collaboration with other law enforcing agencies dealing crime cases around the subregion.

East Africa[edit]

There are a number of situations in East Africa where there are no simple rules about balancing internal, regional, and worldwide interests. At various times, Sudan has been involved in the north-south Second Sudanese Civil War, the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, and alternately hosting and ousting transnational Islamic extremists.

Another multipolar conflict involves Ethiopia, the breakaway country of Eritrea, and Somalia, the latter generally considered a failed state but beginning to establish structure. Ethiopia has been considered the US proxy.

There may have been CIA involvement with these various countries and regions, less from their internal and neighbor disputes, and more in dealing with transnational terrorism. It is not a simple situation, whether considered morally, geopolitically, or with respect to alliances.

East Africa 1971[edit]

An 1971 NIE discussed a number of regional issues:[4] This document defined East Africa to as including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia. Zambia is present due to its links to Tanzania.

In the 1960s, the newly independent states of East Africa seemed to be off to a promising start. Under national rulers of considerable stature, the countries set about devising means of developing their societies and economies in an atmosphere of relative political stability. The brief army mutinies of 1964, which simultaneously afflicted Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania,) were quickly sup-pressed with assistance from the UK and appeared to have a salutary effect on government relations with the military. In colonial times, the UK had established common transportation, communications, and monetary services for Kenya, Tanganyika, and Uganda. In 1967, these services were consolidated in an East African Community (EAC). Each of the national rulers confronted and over-came internal political challenges. President Kenneth Kaunda's leadership qualities were tested by adversities, and his friendship with President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania helped bring Zambia much closer to the EAC.

The euphoria of this immediate, post-independence period has since given way to frustration and disappointment. The rulers of East Africa, like their counterparts else-where on the continent, have gradually found themselves confronted with a host of worsening problems... Domestic pressures, mutual suspicions of the national leaders, and the uneven patterns of development of the various economies have led to more nationalistic postures in foreign relations. Though spared the civil strife which afflicted Nigeria and the "revolving door" presidential changes of small West African states, East Africa is clearly passing through a period of change and challenge in which former arrangements and agreements are under increasing pressure.

Much of the region's politics is related to the overthrow of Uganda's President Milton Obote by General Idi Amin in January 1971, followed by a personal and ideological conflict between Amin and Nyerere of Tanzania. It has contributed to an atmosphere of distrust among other African leaders in the area who also lean towards simplistic views of foreign relations (i.e., seeing neighbors as pro-Arab or anti-Arab, pro-Communist or anti-Communist). President Mobutu of Congo (Kinshasa) has talked with Amin about creating a belt of anti-Arab, anti-Communist nations (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and the Congo) to stem the southward flow of radicalism, which they fear, and to isolate Nyerere and Kaunda. Though no formal arrangements are in the cards, a variety of bilateral ties tend to bring the conservative states together. Kenya is providing assistance to the Ugandan security services. Kenya and Ethiopia have defense agreements against Somali irrendentist efforts. Uganda, Congo (Kinshasa), and Ethiopia are supporting the southern Sudanese in their struggle against Khartoum and are cooperating in various ways, but for different reasons, with the Israelis.

East Africa 2006[edit]

Another regional problem [5] involves effects on Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda as "blowback" from the United States War on Terrorism in the Horn of Africa and the US ally, Ethiopia. The Somalia conflict has increased the flow of weapons into Kenya and Uganda, spawned a regional polio epidemic, destabilized the relationship between Kenya and Somalia, increased tension within Kenya’s Muslim community, and created the possibility of an expanded regional conflict.

"Ethiopia, in an effort to support Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) against the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), pushed into Somalia to retake the town of Bur Haquba near Baidoa. This sparked calls by the ICU for a Jihad against Ethiopia. To support Ethiopia, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer at week’s end then accused Eritrea of supporting the ICU.

Southern Africa[edit]

The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania, though more commonly reckoned in Central and Eastern Africa respectively, are occasionally included in Southern Africa. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) was established in 1980 to facilitate co-operation in the region. The Southern African Customs Union (SACU), created in 1969, comprises the five countries in the UN subregion of Southern Africa.


  1. ^ National Intelligence Estimate 60-66: The Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia), Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume XXIV, Africa, 5 May 1966, FRUS-XXIV-1 
  2. ^ "Summary", Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume E-5, Part 2, Documents on Africa, 1969-1972, United States Department of State 
  3. ^ "National Intelligence Estimate 60/70-65: Problems and Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa". Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume XXIV,Africa. April 22, 1965. FRUS-XXIV-195, NIE 60/70-65.  all the countries of Africa except the following: UAR, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Spanish Sahara
  4. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (7 October 1971). "NIE 70-71: Troubles in East Africa". Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume E-5, Documents on Africa, 1969-1972. United States Department of State. FRUS E-5 No. 288. 
  5. ^ Church, William (2006-10-23). "Somalia: CIA Blowback Weakens East Africa".