A new Cold war is brewing in Africa as the US, its European allies as well as Russia are vying for influence in the world's second-largest continent amid the Ukraine-Russia war, according to a political commentator.
Netfa Freeman, senior member of Black Alliance for Peace from Washington, DC, said that recent months' flurry of diplomatic activity with top-ranking Western and Russian officials visiting Africa is signaling an impending cold war.
"The heightened engagement with Africa is unquestionably a part of a new cold war by the West, led by the United States that has been waging a cold war against Russia and China in particular. And so this is playing out in Africa as a new scramble for Africa," Freeman told Press TV's Africa Today weekly show aired on Monday.
In December, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, new Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have all embarked on African tours.
Russia has been making diplomatic inroads in African countries that were seen as backyards of Western neo-colonial powers, especially France, amid Washington’s waning influence on a continent that is rapidly pivoting toward bilateral relations with global powers that do not exert pressure to adopt certain geopolitical positions.
Meanwhile, the US-led NATO military alliance is angered by Russia's increasing influence in Africa, particularly over the past year while the alliance is indirectly engaged in a military conflict with Russia in Ukraine.
"It appears that Russia is succeeding and I think that has more to do with the insistence of the western countries and particularly the United States on using strong arm tactics," Freeman said.
He added that the US and other Western colonialists are "not respecting the sovereignty of African countries" and tend to "dictate" them who they should have relationships with.
In March, during the UN vote to condemn Russia's military campaign in Ukraine, 25 African nations either voted to abstain or did not vote at all.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also blamed NATO for the war in Ukraine and said he would resist calls to condemn Russia.
"The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded the warnings from amongst its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less, instability in the region," Ramaphosa said in response to questions in parliament last March.
In July, upon Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's four-nation African tour, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he saw no reason to criticize Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, lauding Russian-African friendship, as Russia has been a partner in Africa's struggle against colonialism for a century.
Moreover, in February, addressing the media after meeting his Eritrean counterpart, Osman Saleh, Lavrov said Russia favors the principle of African solutions to African problems.
"We together with our Eritrean friends believe that in order to overcome the regional crisis we require the promotion of a comprehensive approach through coordinated actions of the African states themselves with the support from the international community," Lavrov said.
In January, the South African Minister of Defense and Military Veterans Thandi Modise, criticized the US for trying to bully African countries from doing business with Russia.
Madison said the countering malign Russian activities in Africa Act which seeks to sanction any African businesses or people doing business with Russia should be rejected by African countries.
"We cannot be bullied simply because we are a growing economy. We have national interests, we have regional interests, [so] we must make sure we stand our ground where it counts," she added.
Freeman also slammed the US' lack of respect for African countries self -determination and their right to do business how they see fit, referring to it as "gangsterism."
"The US is a gangster and NATO gangster countries impose their will [on other countries]," he added.
Furthermore, South Africa's joint military exercise with Russia and China announced in late January, which coincided with the anniversary of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, drew concerns from the White House.
Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, defended the decision in a joint media briefing alongside her visiting Russian counterpart Lavrov.
"All countries conduct military exercises with friends worldwide, so there should be no compulsion on any country that they should not conduct them with any other partner. It’s part of a natural course of relationships between countries," Pandor said.
Freeman said Africa is reasserting its independence and the joint naval drills by the South African Navy with Russia and China is a pointer to this new realignment of power in Africa.
"These new developments with the naval drills [means that] we do not consider the US the hegemone anymore," he said.