Gambian President and dictator Yahya Jammeh, facing a combined military force composed of Senegalese army troops, the Nigerian air force, and troops from Mali, Ghana, and Togo, has agreed to relinquish the presidency of Gambia. On December 1, 2016, Jammeh was defeated for re-election in a surprise upset by his little-known rival Adama Barrow. Jammeh received only 45 percent of the vote.
During the election campaign Jammeh vowed in an interview with the BBC to “rule for one billion years.” After initially conceding defeat to Barrow, Jammeh reneged on his promise to step down and announced he would remain as president.
The Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) decided that Jammeh had to go, a stance ironically supported by the United States, which had assisted Jammeh in overthrowing Gambia’s democratically-elected president, Sir Dauda K. Jawara, in 1994.
After Jammeh refused ECOWAS’s, the African Union’s, and the United Nations Security Council’s demands to leave office and permit Barrow to assume the presidency, ECOWAS mobilized its military forces. On January 19, 2017, Barrow was sworn in as president in the Gambian embassy in Dakar, the Senegalese capital. Hours later, Senegalese troops began to enter Gambia and Nigerian air force jets buzzed the Gambian capital of Banjul. The presidents of Mauritania and Guinea flew to Banjul to urge Jammeh to leave office peacefully. Jammeh’s fate was sealed when Major General Ousman Badjie, the commander of the Gambian armed forces, recognized Barrow as Gambia’s commander-in-chief.
The demand from the United States for Jammeh to relinquish power was a display of absolute hypocrisy since Washington had not only installed Jammeh into power but two successive U.S. presidents warmly welcomed the military ruler to the White House. Jammeh, who owns a $3.5 million mansion in Potomac, Maryland, was warmly greeted by President Barack Obama at the 2014 and 2015 U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summits in Washington. President George W. Bush greeted Jammeh at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Washington in 2003. With the protection of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, Jammeh’s Moroccan-born wife, Zineb Jammeh, ran up huge totals at the Washington area’s fashionable shopping malls. She also settled on Sam’s Club, a wholesale discount store, to buy massive amounts of household goods. Jammeh is a textbook case of CIA-sponsored kleptocracy on a grand scale.
Under Jammeh, Gambia continued to be a strategic ally of the United States. The kleptocratic Gambian leader permitted the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to maintain an emergency landing site for NASA’s space shuttle in the country and Gambia participated with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in the post-9/11 rendition program.
Before being installed as Gambia’s dictator, Jammeh had received training from the Pentagon. Merely a lieutenant in the Gambian National Army. In 1993, Jammeh attended the notorious “School of the Americas” in Fort Benning, Georgia. The school has trained some of Latin America’s most notorious military dictators and death squad commanders. While in Fort Benning, Jammeh was made an honorary citizen of the state of Georgia. The following year, and before he launched his coup, Jammeh attended the Military Police Officers Basic Course (MPOBC) at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He was also made an honorary lieutenant colonel in the Alabama State Militia. Jammeh continued to collect American honorifics, including being made an admiral in the non-existent Navy of the State of Nebraska. The corny title is bestowed by the governor of Nebraska to prominent citizens, who have not only included African dictators like Jammeh and his fellow CIA-supported kleptocrat, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, but to the likes of George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Queen Elizabeth II.
It was during the administration of President Bill Clinton that the green light was given for Jammeh to be installed in a CIA-led coup in Gambia.
On July 24, 1994, President Jawara was at his palace in Banjul entertaining the commanding officer of the visiting U.S. Navy tank landing ship, the USS La Moure County. Also present was U.S. Ambassador to Gambia Andrew Winter, a career foreign service officer who represented a new breed of U.S. ambassador—one that routinely and publicly involved himself in the domestic political affairs of the nation to which they were posted. While Jawara and the ship’s commander exchanged diplomatic niceties, junior army officers, led by Jammeh, staged a coup against the democratically elected government.
Following the announcement of the coup, La Moure County’s skipper could only offer Jawara; Lady Chilele Jawara, one of his two wives; 14 of his 19 children; and his finance minister and police inspector-general a ride to his ship and American protection. Once on board, Jawara was permitted to use the vessel’s communications equipment to contact his military leaders. To Jawara’s dismay, the coup leader, Jammeh, had arrested Colonel Boubakar Dada, the head of Gambia’s 800-strong army, along with ten Nigerian military advisers.
Instead of stepping in to help the Gambian leader, who had known every American president since John F. Kennedy, the Clinton administration merely offered to mediate between Jawara and the rebels. State Department spokeswoman Sondra McCarty suggested the United States was “trying to facilitate dialogue between the two side,” as if Jammeh and his coup partners possessed legitimacy.
The U.S. Navy ship took Jawara to neighboring Senegal where he was granted political asylum by its government. Jawara’s relationship with Senegal had become testy in recent years. In 1982, Jawara and President Abdou Diouf had agreed to establish the Senegambian Confederation. Many Gambians criticized the agreement as a de facto annexation of Gambia by Senegal as its 11th region. Sensing the opposition of his people, Jawara scrapped the confederation in 1989. However, this decision did not meet with the favor of the U.S. State Department’s incoming breed of African specialists, who were enthusiastic about African integration. In their view, Jawara seemed to be swimming against the tide and an anachronism that should be dealt with appropriately. After being “dealt with” by the CIA, Jawara eventually took up residence in England.
Ambassador Winter never made a demand that the junta step down and allow Jawara to return to his office in The Quadrangle in Banjul to resume his presidency. The CIA and the Pentagon has already invested heavily in Jammeh as “their man.” Jammeh’s pre-coup military training in the United States is similar to that of Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame, who was trained at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, before he left in 1994 to lead an invasion of Rwanda from Uganda, after which, he took over the government.
Witnessing the extreme measures the United States was taking to restore ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide to power, Jawara said: “We have an even stronger case than Haiti.” He added: “I will feel very let down if military rule is allowed to take root [in Gambia].” However, Bill Clinton would not only deal harshly with Gambia but, in the end, Bill and Hillary Clinton eschewed Aristide after they turned Haiti into their personal cash cow. Thanks to the double dealing and corruption of the Clintons, Gambia and Haiti both fell under kleptocratic regimes. Jawara remained exiled in England and Aristide was, for a time, exiled to South Africa after being ousted in a CIA-initiated coup in 2004.
The United States is fond of calling for democracy in countries like Gambia, Haiti, and Rwanda, but those calls come after the CIA destabilized the countries with military coups. Uncle Sam shamelessly wears the hat of a supreme hypocrite.
This article originally appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).