As Africans across the world and lamenting the new wave of Chinese colonial expeditions across Africa and the Caribbean, it appears as if Africans are not even welcome to live freely in China. Amidst many reports of everyday racism faced by Africans who live, study or work in China, a Zambian student has allegedly been beaten to death for dating a Chinese woman.
Twenty-Five years old Chrispine Mwale, a Civil engineering student was beaten to death after he was found in a Chinese woman’s apartment. It is said alleged that Mr. Mwale spent the night at his girlfriend’s place after clubbing on a Sunday night.
As he was relaxing and enjoying his day with his girlfriend, four Chinese men stormed the apartment and dragged Mr. Mwale out and started beating him with iron bars. Video evidence taken at the scene can clearly see the thugs thumping on the helpless Chrispine Mwale, as he screamed and writhed in agony.
An eyewitness, who also happens to be a close friend to Mr. Mwale, gives his own account of the events thus: “We went out drinking on a Sunday night as a group. After our drinks we got on a taxi heading to our apartment. On the way Mr. Mwale’s girlfriend said she wanted to spend a night with him. That’s how they left and I was only called by the girlfriend in the morning to come and save my friend”.
This same friend explains that upon arriving at the scene, he saw a badly beaten and bruised Chrispine. The Chinese men continued to beat him, despite their pleadings. In addition to the beating, they rained insults and stated that they could not allow a poor African to have a child in their country. According to the Chinese thugs, no African or Black man was allowed to date a Chinese woman.
When their victim stopped moving and screaming, the eyewitness reports, the thugs stopped and only then did they try to help Chrispine. They found out that he had already died.
October 1 means different things to every Cameroonian. To the Federalist, it is the day the Two-State Federation came into existence, therefore, marking the birth of the State of West Cameroon. To the Separatist or Ambazonian, it is the day on which their Interim President, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, declared the restoration of their independence on October 1st, 2017. To other Cameroonians, it is the day on which President Paul Biya ordered the indiscriminate massacre of many unarmed civilians in 2017, thereby plunging the country deeper into crisis. For many families in Cameroon, West of the Mungo – also known as – Southern Cameroons, West Cameroon, Ambazonia or simply Anglophone (English-Speaking) Cameroon, it is the day they will never forget as their loved ones were brutally taken away from them and their lives torn apart forever.
These issues are the core of the message delivered by the Chairman of the West Cameroon Movement for Change (WCMC), Michael Takie, on his first-ever live broadcast on their Facebook page. Mr. Takie highlighted that while the federalist is looking for the restoration of the lost dignity of the people of West Cameroon and calling for a return to the Two-State Federation; the separatist is calling for the restoration of the dignity of the people of Southern Cameroons through a clean and complete break with the Republic of Cameroon and the Ambazonian is commemorating their day of independence, one thing stands in the way of all these people – DICTATOR PAUL BIYA AND HIS REGIME.
To this end, therefore, Mr. Takie highlighted the need for all to unify and challenge the monster preventing the people from reaching their different aspirations. He argued that irrespective of what differences people have with regards to their destination, it is obvious that their journey goes along the same road, and hence, they ought to use the same vehicle and keep each other company.
Rallying together to ask that Biya leaves power and should not stand for the 7th October 2018 elections, is, according to Mr. Takie, something that serves a triple purpose. First, it liberates the whole of Cameroon from 36 years of baren rule. Secondly, it is the beginning of justice for the people who have lost their lives at the hands of Biya and thirdly, it is a step in the right direction for everyone fighting for change in Cameroon.
A demonstration across major cities and countries in the world was therefore announced. Those currently confirmed are:
YAOUNDE – LONDON – NEW YORK – PARIS – WASHINGTON DC – BELGIUM – SOUTH AFRICA
Confirmations for other demonstrations scheduled to take place at Cameroon’s Embassies and foreign missions in other Countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas are still awaited.
While it has been established that the different countries will decide on the location for their demonstrations, the WCMC leader proposed that the targets on that day should largely be the disruption of business for all Cameroon’s foreign Missions. This is with the exception of Yaounde, where the location for the demonstration is a highlight guarded secret, which will be released shortly before the day of the demonstration.
Drawing inspiration from the people of Burkina Faso, who stood together as one and demanded the departure of Blaise Compaore, this demonstration is a call to every Cameroonian, who wants things to change, irrespective of their linguistic background or political affiliation, to come out en masse and demand an end to Biya’s monstrosity.
The WCMC has together with other frontline organisations in the UK, been at the forefront of organising demonstrations and starting petitions. It has organised demonstrations multiple times at the Cameroon High Commission in London, at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, French Embassy, Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. This is the first time it is working with leaders of groups beyond the UK to organise a worldwide shutdown. WCMC believes that the main strategy to stop a dictator like Biya, remains non-violent peaceful resistance.
Events such as the Notting Hill Carnival have historically been known to cough up a lot of surprises, least among which has not been the case of violence. As is to be expected therefore, the police do everything in their power to ensure that those who attend such events are protected from attacks. One way of doing this is through ‘Stop and Search’.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 gives police officers in England and Wales the powers to stop and search anyone if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect the person is carrying:
something which could be used to commit a crime, such as a crowbar
A person can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer. This can happen if the police have grounds to suspect that:
serious violence was likely to take place
the person is carrying a weapon or have used one
the person is a specific location or area
Despite these powers being in place, there are many instances where the police have been accused of using them to target specific persons based on their age and racial background. One would have thought that in the 21st Century, such segregation will not exist. How wrong would they be?
As images and videos flooded social mediasphere at the peak of the Notting Hill Carnival, it came with little surprise when Anti-War and Human Rights Activist, Maya Evans posted images of Police engaged in Stop and Search. It would have been a routine exercise but for the fact that the targets were mainly young men, aged 25 or below, of Afro-Caribbean backgrounds. Maya goes on to explain that upon speaking to some of the young people, it appeared they even wondered if this was a legal act.
While Maya’s images portray a very responsive group of young persons, the situation is different in a video posted by Justice or Else UK, a Human Rights group campaigning against police brutality and deaths in custody. In this video, it would appear that a young man had resisted being searched, and was being forcefully arrested by the officers. The videographer, who also happens to have been an eyewitness, can be heard asking the police what ‘probable cause’ they had for stopping the young man.
As earlier indicated, the police have a right to stop and search anyone if there were reasonable grounds to suspect them of committing or intending to commit a crime. Also, what is often not told, is the fact that the person has the right to refuse being searched, unless the police can provide justification to indicate that there was reason to believe the person constituted a threat to the public. As stop and search is officially not an arrest, it is therefore wrong for the police to have forcefully grabbed the young man, without providing reason to justify their actions. In the instance where the police had grounds to suspect them of committing or intending to commit a crime, they could be arrested, but only after their rights had been read to them and they had been told of what they were being arrested for.
It is therefore sad that even in the most colourful of events, the person of African origin is always a target from the very institutions that are supposed to make them feel safe. it is even sadder that nothing is being done to stop the institutional profiling of young people of colour in the UK, who disproportionately suffer from police brutality.
It is understandable, especially given the number of persons that were injured this year at the carnival as reported by the Guardian, that measures ought to be taken to protect the public. However, when such measures target a specific demographic, it loses its legitimacy.
The logic is simple, we may have different visions of what we want, but we have common enemies. For the Francophone in Cameroon, it is the dysfunctional regime of Dictator Paul Biya, while to those from other countries, it is the imperialism of France.
The demonstrators where unanimous in the condemnation of the brutal massacre of English-Speaking Cameroonians. They were also very vocal in condemning the other atrocities perpetrated by the Biya regime among women and children in other parts of the country.
Talking to one of the organisers, he confirmed that they are guided by the principle that by working with others, all oppressed people can easily win against oppression than if they were working on their own. He said this was the beginning of a movement that was hoped will spread across all French-Speaking African countries. Their broad objective is not only to condemn the dictatorships that seem to be more rampant in Francophone Africa, but also to ensure the destruction of the Francs CFA.
It should be noted that Fourteen Countries in Africa currently subjected to the use of the French currency. There are four fundamental principles guiding France’s relationship with the CFA countries. These are captured succinctly by Pierre Canac and Rogelio Garcia-Contreras in an article in the Journal of Asian and African Studies (February 2011).
The French Treasury guarantees without limits, the convertibility of the two CFA francs.
The two CFA francs are convertible at a fixed exchange into French francs [now euros],”. So France abandoned the French Francs but we are stuck with the CFA Franc. Also, the fixed exchange rate can change, but only when France approves.
Despite plenty of restrictions, there are no de jure controls on the movements of capital within the [CFA] zone.”
The CFA zone members must “pool together a minimum of 65% of their international reserves, corresponding to 20% of the monetary base of each central bank, into an operations account at the French Treasury”.
There is therefore hope not only for Cameroonians – Anglophones and Francophones alike – but also for the whole of French Africa, should this movement gain momentum, and lead to the true liberation of French-Africa from the clutches of imperialism.
Many citizens of the self-proclaimed state of Ambazonia would have been taken aback upon reading a short piece purportedly written by Professor Martin Ayim. Ayim in his write-up claims that all documents sent to the United Nations (UN) by Ambazonians since the 1990s have been shredded, without being looked at. Anyim presents this as a discovery that appears to have been a victory achieved by the Ambazonian Interim Government (IG). He therefore quickly goes on to state that the same IG will soon be reaching out to the UN Secretary General.
As this short write-up made its rounds on social media, I read with fascination as many latched on to the optimistic parts, which provided them with a reason to cling to their hope of having a new nation. The truth is that Prof. Anyim, like many erudite persons from Cameroon, West of the Mungo, have for a long time, excelled in the art of deception. This deception paradoxically has been of their own people.
Let us be clear about something, the UN has no legal obligation to a state called Ambazonia. As far as the UN is concerned, Southern Cameroons voted in 1961 in a plebiscite to join The Republic of Cameroon in a Federation. Resolution 1608 of April 1961 confirmed the results of this plebiscite and in the Foumban Conference, the representatives of both Southern Cameroons and the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon agreed on the form of state they wanted. On October 1, 1961, Southern Cameroons became West Cameroon.
The contention today, which has some legal basis, is how West Cameroon disappeared in 1972, as the state mutated to the United Republic of Cameroon and what happened to the supposed ‘unity’, when Paul Biya in 1984 changed the country’s name back to The Republic of Cameroon.
Maybe, taking the issues regarding the disappearance of West Cameroon to the UN for discussion might have given them something to talk about. However approaching the UN with the quest for the recognition of a new state, was a nonstarter.
The recognition of a new State or Government is an act that only other States and Governments may grant or withhold. It generally implies readiness to assume diplomatic relations. The United Nations is neither a State nor a Government, and therefore does not possess any authority to recognize either a State or a Government. As an organization of independent States, it may admit a new State to its membership or accept the credentials of the representatives of a new Government.
The procedure is briefly as follows:
The State submits an application to the Secretary-General and a letter formally stating that it accepts the obligations under the Charter.
The Security Council considers the application. Any recommendation for admission must receive the affirmative votes of 9 of the 15 members of the Council, provided that none of its five permanent members — China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America — have voted against the application.
If the Council recommends admission, the recommendation is presented to the General Assembly for consideration. A two-thirds majority vote is necessary in the Assembly for admission of a new State.
Membership becomes effective the date the resolution for admission is adopted.
So contrary to what Prof. Anyim and many claim, the UN did not grant independence to Southern Cameroons in 1961, it merely recognised the outcome of a public vote. In the same manner, the UN has no mandate to grant independence to Ambazonia.
So instead of sending papers and petitions to the UN asking for the recognition of a new state, Ambazonians might think of courting at least 9 out of the 15 members of the Security Council, while making sure that the Five Permanent members are among these.
This, of course, would be a herculean task given that, with the apparent exception of the Russian Federation, the other permanent members have been instrumental in different ways in propping up the Biya Regime’s 36 years in power.
Ambazonians have also been known to tender petitions to the Commonwealth, of which Cameroon is a member. Under the same rules of engagement that the UN has with its members, the Commonwealth is under no obligation to respond to Ambazonia, as it is not one of her members.
It is my view that the best way for English-Speaking Cameroonians to get any form of freedom or respect within their country, is to challenge the system from within. It is obvious that elections will never guarantee this, as the rigging machinery is effectively controlled by Biya. Making the case for the Restoration of the State of West Cameroon, which has a legal argument starting with the violation of the constitution in 1972, remains the best option.
A return to a Two-State Federation within Cameroon will give Anglophones, the autonomy to build the right institutions that can attract diplomatic relations with other states. Such can be the start of any talk of independence. Within a federal structure, the people of the English-speaking regions can effectively talk with the UN or Commonwealth, as sections of a Country that is their member.
In a nutshell, English-Speaking Cameroonians will need to gain some degree of autonomy before they can think of approaching the UN. As an organisation of independent states, the UN deals with independent entities, not help them gain independence.
There are reports that shots have been fired close to the Houses of Parliament in central London.
These have been confirmed by some politicians and journalists who have tweeted about hearing loud bangs outside the parliament buildings. According to a tweet from Tom Peck, political editor of the Independent, “There was a loud bang. Screams. Commotion. Then the sound of gunshots. Armed police everywhere.”
Some eyewitnesses have confirmed that they saw people being treated for injuries and also report seeing a man with a knife on the parliament grounds.
Scotland Yard has confirmed it was called to a firearms incident on Westminster Bridge amid reports of several people injured.
Westminster underground station has been shut at the police’s request according to Transport for London.
Latest reports confirm that a police officer died at the scene and another woman was also killed. The assailant is reported to have also been shot by the police. The situation has been described as a ‘terrorist attack’ by the police.
This unique fellowship will continue as an innovation lab for knowledge sharing and capacity building for international students during summer 2014.
The selected fellows will be placed in Ananta Centre’s New Delhi office over a period of two months in the time frame of1 June – 15 September, 2014 (dates are flexible to accommodate international university schedule)and exposed to India’s policy landscape. The fundamental aim is to foster prospective leaders and increase their responsiveness to national and international issues facing India.
The past few weeks would have been really disturbing for anyone around the world and especially Africans who have some sense of empathy in them. Since April 14, when it is alleged that a band of heavily armed Islamist militants raided the Government Girls Secondary School in Borno state, northern Nigeria, and ultimately fled with an estimated 300 captives all of whom are young women and girls who the militants’ leader has threatened to sell into slavery or marriage, there has been no shortage of media coverage and social media hype about finding the girls. Today, the BBC reported that hopes of finding the girls is fading fast. But was this unexpected?
There is a saying that once bitten twice shy hence, I was not about to make the mistake that I made in supporting the Kony2012 campaign before realising what the real agenda was. I wrote a post then titled The African Dilemma: Kony 2012 – Liberation or Recolonisation? in which I questioned the whole logic of the campaign and regretted that history was repeating itself and Africa was experiencing a second colonisation. I have therefore been very slow in joining the clamour for the Chibok girls to be found. This does not in any way mean that I did not hope they should be found. Rather, I have been hoping to find answers to some questions but, the more I try, the more questions there are to answer.
How realistic are the Evaluations and Pronostics?
Anyone familiar with the Kony2012 saga will inevitably ask this question. The objectives seem to be the same, getting foreign troops into an African country because the quest is one that the country cannot handle and one that failure to accept foreign help will amount to barbarism on the part of the government. Over the past few weeks, the story of the abducted girls and Nigeria’s Boko Haram militant group has become a roaring inferno with the press and come to dominate world news with one endgame in sight – Nigeria and its neighbours should allow unfettered access to Western troops to help find the girls.
Whether or not girls are missing in Chibok is not a question I can answer, despite some skepticism creeping into my mind when I started coming across contentious views. However, I cannot ignore some more questions.
What Happened to Kony2012?
Those who followed the media hype of Invisible Children’s Kony2012 will remember that they claimed Joseph Kony will be caught before 2012 ran out. We are in 2014 and despite the fact that Obama sent hundreds of specialist troops into Uganda and the Central African region, there is nothing to show for it. Oh wait! I almost forgot! Joseph Kony has not been caught yet, but the Central African Republic and South Sudan have joined the Democratic Republic of Congo as the latest additions of conflict ridden African states.
The question one cannot fail asking at this stage is: Where are the specialist troops Obama sent? Why did they not help in stopping the carnage that took place in the CAR? why are they not able to help South Sudan avoid a famine catastrophe? How come the countries they entered in the quest to catch Kony all suddenly erupted into conflict? What role are these specialist troops actually playing in the outbreak of conflict in these countries?
These questions will appear really naive when it is recalled that the USA seems to be able to offer nothing but conflict to any country they enter. Rewind back to the immediate post 9/11. The quest to catch Bin Laden and free Americans from the fear of Al Qaeda resulted in the complete collapse of Iraq, Afghanistan and has left Pakistan struggling to hold itself together. The quest to catch Al Qaeda members and other terrorist across the globe has left the fear of drones hanging over every area that has been identified as a stronghold (Yemenis can testify to this fact). It will therefore be out of character for the US to engage in a search and rescue mission without leaving a trail of horrifying conflict. Which brings me to another question.
Who Arms these Rebels and Terrorists?
I cannot believe I am asking this question. It may not be immediately obvious who arms Al Qaeda (at least not the ones in Syria) or who currently arms the Taliban, but when it comes to Boko Haram, it is obvious to any discerning mind. Boko Haram began as a local group and with the quick execution of their leader in 2009 during the reign of late Nigerian President Yar’ Adua, the sponsors of the sect could not be uncovered. The group however began to dwindle until 2011 when Libya collapsed and the arms that the US had indiscriminately handed to rebels in Libya conveniently found their way into Nigeria and saw the rebirth of the current Boko Haram. Questions abound as to weather the weapons simply changed hands or the same people who used them in Libya simply changed locations. Obviously, this is a difficult question to answer, I will look at the score of the two campaigns against terrorist groups championed through the use of social media and mass promotion.
It should be obvious at this stage where I am driving this analysis. In 2012, there was a massive social media campaign claiming to be aimed at catching Joseph Kony. Kony has not been caught, but all the countries in which he has been associated with are all experiencing armed conflict. The only success was that registered by the Obama administration which got troops into these countries, without going through the drudgery of explaining to anyone why that was necessary. That makes it One for #Kony2012 and the Obama administration, and Zero for African security.
With the current state of affairs regarding #Bringbackourgirls, the campaign has already scored one and with US troops already in Nigeria, that is also one for the Obama administration – the question of whether Nigeria and her neighbours will score anything in this game remains a matter of future conjecture. The recipe for failure has already been prepared when the The presidents of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin were invited to a meeting, with representatives from France, the UK, the US and the European Union. The operating word here is ‘invited’ because the affected countries did not choose to meet – but were invited to discuss an issue the was of grave importance to them and the meeting did not take place in any of the countries affected, but in Paris of all places.
Not to stretch this too far, I will end by asking anyone who thinks that the same players who are yet to win in a dangerous game that has engulfed Ukraine in conflict, will all of a sudden provide a lasting solution to a problem in Africa, should have their thought processes examined.
Even if one were tempted to discard everything Plato wrote, his argument that in the Ideal State, Reason should rule over Courage and Appetite, cannot be overlooked. This has been proven beyond measure over the past few days as the clouds of foreign invasion hangs over Syria, drowning the throes of the inglorious civil war that has engulfed the nation for over 2 years. Beating the drums and sounding the gongs of this war have been Western leaders, notably those of the United States, the United Kingdom and France. The high level of irrationality exhibited by some of the statements of these leaders, challenges the folly of the dark ages.
For example, how could David Cameron so boldly tell the world that there is evidence that the Syrian government has used Chemical weapons against its own people over 10 times already, presents a motion to be debated in parliament with the support of his Deputy, which claims of ‘at least 14 times’, yet fails to back this with any evidence other than what they call ‘highly sensitive intelligence’? How could Francoise Hollande make the rather strong and obviously naïve statement that France will ‘punish’ all those responsible for the attack, when he was in no way capable of telling who did it and the work of the UN Inspectors was yet to determine what substances were used and by whom and clearly oblivious of the fact that punitive action has no place in international law?
If anyone was to wonder who was playing the music to which these two stooges were dancing, then look no further than the United States of America. But the question that should be asked ab initio is: why all the flurry all of a sudden? Who is playing the music to which the USA itself is dancing?
At other times, it would be easy to point to Israel. This time, paradoxically, it is no other than what Paul Flynn says is a ‘foolishly drawn red line’ by
President Obama that needed to be crossed in Syria to become a catalyst for action. Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West goes on to argue that the real reason “…is not because of the horror of these weapons and the horror exists – but because the American president foolishly drew a red line and because of his position now, he’s going to attack or face humiliation. That’s why we’re being drawn into war”. Why then is this ‘Red Line’ statement a catalyst for invasion?
The Obama ‘RED LINE’
At the beginning of the Syrian conflict, there was only one message from the West which they claimed was the panacea to the crises… Assad had to leave power. In fact, during the last US presidential debate, President Obama firmly asserted that “Syrians are going to have to determine their own future” and Mitt Romney twice made the point that he did not ” want to have our military involved in Syria.” Both Candidates however agreed that the US needed to “make sure they [the Syrian opposition] have the arms necessary to defend themselves [though] We do need to make sure that they don’t have arms that get into the wrong hands” said Mr. Romney and President Obama concurred “For us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step, and we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are helping; that we’re not putting arms in the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us or allies in the region.”
So arming the rebels was not debatable hence it will be anyone’s guess how the rebels have been able to sustain their offensive till date.
The point of the Obama ‘red line’ became an area of agreement between the Vice Presidential Candidates. When Raddatz asked Paul Ryan “What happens if Assad does not fall, Congressman Ryan? What happens to the region? What happens if he hangs on? What happens if he does?”
The response was ” Then Iran keeps their greatest ally in the region. He’s a sponsor of terrorism. He’ll probably continue slaughtering his people. We and the world community will lose our credibility on this.” And then again Raddatz quizzed “So what would Romney-Ryan do about that credibility?” And came the obvious answer “Well, we agree with the same RED LINE, actually, they do on chemical weapons, but not putting American troops in, other than to secure those chemical weapons. They’re right about that.”
From the onset therefore, it has never been about the Syrian people who would die because of a chemical weapons attack, but because it will be a blow to the image of the United States and a plus for Iran if Assad did not go in the end.
President Obama in his characteristic cautious nature when it comes to interventions, had therefore laid the precedence by making the infamous statement that the only time an intervention in Syria will be indubitable would be if ‘a red line was crossed’. While many at the time questioned what the red line could signify in real terms or how it could be measured, very few, if any, questioned the possibility that the line could be crossed by the rebels.
Out of the blue that ‘red line’ has now been crossed because a few hundred people had joined the hundreds of thousand others who had met unprecedented death because of the civil war. Before UN inspectors had even begun their investigations, a conclusion had been drawn in Washington that it MUST have been the Syrian Regime.
While this may have come as a surprise to many, it would have been expected by those who have been following the Syrian conflict closely.
The Syrian Conflict – How Far, So far?
One major outcome of the so-called Arab Spring, was the testing of the concept of humanitarian wars, enshrined in the notion of ‘responsibility to Protect’. Libya was the first laboratory, the rhetoric of ‘Gaddafi killing his own people’ was amplified and sold to the world. Everyone was tricked, including the United Nations which sat by and watched NATO use ‘all necessary means’ to ‘protect’ Libyans from Gaddafi. ‘All necessary means’ as ambiguous as it sounded, proved just that – equivocal at best, obscenely abstruse at worse. Libyans and their country was bombed indiscriminately, killed and maimed to ‘protect’ them from being killed by Gaddafi. After the murder of Gaddafi, Libyans were left at the mercy of armed rebels. America failed to protect her own diplomats in a Libya which had returned to the ‘state of nature’. There is no question then that they could not protect a singly Libyan. As irresponsible as the neglect of Libya was, it was not questioned by many. Emboldened by the Libyan experiment, Syria became the next in line.
The euphoria of erecting western-style democracies albeit through the use of mass revolution caught a few Syrians who were naïve enough to believe that democracy, rather than being a process, was something that could simply be uprooted and replanted. The seeds of a civil war had been planted. While Western countries quickly took to providing logistic support to rebel factions and arming them, Russia was busy fortifying the Syrian Regime. As the proxy wars were being fought, Syrians were dying in thousands and many more were becoming refugees.
As disunited as the rebels were, they soon made quick advance, capturing many cities including key ones like, Homs, Aleppo and Qusayr. As the rebels made rapid progress, all talk of using diplomatic means to end the conflict were quickly squashed. Many UN missions to Syria to negotiate peace ended in fiascos. As each successful mission was botched, the Syrian regime was blamed for refusing to negotiate.
By the second quarter of 2013 however, the tides began to change. The Syrian government began to gain an upper hand in the conflict, presumably with the help of Hezbollah. In the first week of June, the Syrian government gained control of Qusayr and July, government forces had regained control of Aleppo and only the old City of Homs and a few other districts were held by the opposition.
It was becoming obvious that the government had greater chances of winning. As already discussed, An Assad victory would have serious implications:
First, it would be a slap to the face of the USA and a huge setback to its hegemony.
Secondly, It would mean another lost investment by Western powers and there will be no returns from all the arms and logistic support given to the rebels.
Thirdly, it would mean a major victory for Russia and China, and especially the former who would have made huge financial gains from supplying arms to the Syrian goverment
Fourthly, it would mean the emboldenment of Iran and the consolidation of their power in the region.
This therefore meant, Assad had to be stopped from winning at all costs. Helping the rebels had proven abortive, and another direct intervention would certainly be frowned at not only in the Middle East but also within Western countries where citizens have become war-weary.
The only remaining option was therefore for the Syrian regime to do that which they had been warned not to do – cross the red line. It therefore seemed only too convenient that Syrian forces, which were already having an upper hand in the civil war, should carry out an act which they knew would inevitably bring the biggest military in the world against them.
Simple logic would tell that the Syrian regime had no reason whatsoever to use chemical weapons, whereas, the rebels, desperate for Western intervention and banking on the Obama threat, had every motivation to use it.
Obama therefore, like Herod who made a promise to Herodias’ daughter and realized too late he could not back out, had to do something. Since he cannot act on his own, he needed to recruit heralds. Remembering the gullibility of Tony Blair during the Iraqi invasion of 2003 and the role David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy played in Libya, Obama knew exactly who to recruit.
The British Connection and the Triumph of Reason
A 40-minute call to David Cameron did the trick. Mr. Cameron abandoned his holiday, rushed back and convened parliament, also cutting short their holidays. A motion was hurriedly put together, but like sweet palm wine, it was sweet to the mouth but void of substance. The British House of Commons came out on the 29th of August 2013 and showed the world that they were not only going to avoid being sucked into the folly of 2003, but that they had enough information to ask the questions that needed asking.
With a complete deconstruction of the government’s motion for a military intervention into Syria, Reason triumphed over Courage and Appetite. The historic defeat of the British government in parliament on an issue of foreign policy certainly marks a new dawn for imperialistic wars.
Whether the US will decide to go into Syria without the UK or not is left to be seen within the next few days. What this is going to mean for UK-US relations is still a matter of conjecture. These notwithstanding, it will go down in history that the world stood by and watched innocent children, women and men, being murdered in Syria while power-politics and proxy wars took centre stage. The UN Security Council will certainly not provide a solution as the divide that has existed over Syria will not dissolve into thin air. Of the 165 nations that signed the convention on Chemical weapons, Syria is not among (contrary to David Cameron’s postulations) meaning that the signatories of the convention do not even have the legitimacy to call Syria to order for the alleged use of chemical weapons.
While Libya has been the white elephant in the room throughout this debate, as clearly evidenced in the British Parliament where it was completely ignored and Iraq became the reference point, the failure of the Libyan intervention certainly writes a memorandum for us all.
The question I have been toying with since the Boston tragedy is: How on earth could such an event have been organised, with the recent public shootings that have taken place in the US, and the event venue was not scanned for explosives?
The fact that the explosions took place near the finish line where obviously there will be cameras to capture them makes it all the more curious. As I scanned all news channels last night and the gory images from the explosions kept surfacing, I had one feeling that dominated, FEAR!
I found myself wondering each time where on earth a person could be safe, if at the heart of a US event, something like that could happen. The force of the emotions I felt could have been instigated in no small measure by the contrast of the scenario – ONE MOMENT, PEOPLE WERE CELEBRATING THE ARRIVAL OF THE FIRST ATHLETES, THE NEXT MOMENT THEY WERE SCREAMING IN PAIN. The thin line that exists between life and death, happiness and sorrow was amplified by those footages.
If there is anything that can control the human mind effectively, that is fear. Thomas Hobbes writing in the Leviathan (supported by Machiavelli) states that the fear of death, especially violent death is the main reason why people created civil society. The events surrounding 9/11 and now this Boston event seems to illustrate the primacy of fear, and how it connects with a need for security. This was at the centre of Obama’s reaction to the news: TIGHTER SECURITY, RETALIATION!
NOT A NEW PHENOMENON…
Plato had a long time ago rightly pointed out that “this and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector” . So the question arises – could there be an outside chance that terror is being used to control the American people – as obviously they now keep seeing the state as a great protector?
Should that be the case then erstwhile US President James Madison’s prophesy about the USA would have come true. He held that “if Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
If by any chance, this is the case, where does that place the USA today, given that Hitler had earlier opined that “terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death”. Would the USA today therefore be using the same weapon that Hitler used to control Nazi Germany and the European leaders of his time?
If one were to doubt this, Hitler’s own henchman Goering clears any cobwebs from the mind with this mind-blowing explanation “why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
It did work after 9/11 perfectly, whether there was an external threat or not, whether conspiracy theorists are to be believed or not… Americans bought the propaganda to attack foreign nations because of the logic of protection. So to a large extent Goering was right. IT WORKED IN THE USA – THE WORLD’S NO. 1 DEMOCRACY.
MY TWO CENTS
My heart goes to the families of those who lost their lives in this latest act of violence, but reason beckons on me to question if we should continue to be used by the political elite for selfish ends. As Assed Baig of the Huff Post rightly captures
On the same day as the Boston bombings at least 33 were killed and 160 wounded in a string of bomb attacks across Iraq. Attacks which did not take place before the US led invasion of the country. The same media coverage was not afforded to the dead in Iraq, nor did Obama seek to comment on the issue.
I will will not want to comment on this since it has been the norm, but I dare question that call it conspiracy theory or whatever, is it not really uncanny that this attack comes just at a time when the USA has been facing serious provocations from North Korea and a day before the BBC were to air a controversial documentary from North Korea?
Should these attacks be linked to external terror and a call for retaliation arises, I will therefore not be too surprised. But before anyone hastily goes calling for another person’s head in response to what happened, let us not forget what another ‘strongman’ of the last century Josef Stalin said:
“The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamour for such laws if their personal security is threatened”.