During a presentation a friend and I made at Ducklington in Oxfordshire during the celebration of Africa Week 2012, we had little difficulty explaining to the kids that chocolate comes from cocoa and sugar from sugarcane, which are African cash crops. Not surprisingly, cassava drew a lot of attention, not because it was popular among the kids but rather because we had so much to say about it but paradoxically, most of them were hearing it for the first time.
The question I could not stop asking myself was what made cassava such a household name in almost all African and Latin American countries but is barely known in most parts of the world.
I will not go through the drudgery of stating that cassava is a major source of carbohydrates, is consumed by more than 500 million people in the world; can simply be boiled and eaten on its own or with a wide variety of sauces; or that it can be used to prepare Water fufu, miondo, bobolo and nkunkum in Cameroon, eba and akpu in Nigeria, that the leaves of the crop are used to prepare the famous cassava-leaf soup of Sierra Leone; that the famous garri produced from cassava can be soaked in cold water (spiced with peanuts, sliced coconuts or palm kernels) or that garri can be poured into hot water to make a simple meal that can be eaten with an array of sauces.
Neither am I going to go through the mantra of stating that starch from cassava, when treated appropriately makes a good natural adhesive; or that in the textile industry, starches occupy an important place in such operations as warp sizing, cloth finishing and printing: or that alcohol production from cassava has an overall efficiency of 32%, or that cassava could become an industrial crop by developing cultivars with different starch compositions or more importantly that Bio-ethanol production is already making its way into world records as Brazil has already started producing bio-ethanol from cassava and many African countries are also becoming major producers of bio-ethanol.
After all the tossing, I guess you will agree it is time to get back to my initial question: What makes cassava so ‘popular’ yet never entering the hall of fame? Many may not agree but the simple answer is that it is because unlike other tropical crops that can be transported over long distance, any attempt to carry cassava across the ocean will in Mallam Sanusi’s words ‘be tantamount to transporting water’. This is because cassava disintegrates not too long after harvesting and hence cannot do with long-distance travel.
This is, therefore, the tricky part. Africans have never stopped accusing the west for plundering the continent’s natural resources. By crook or by design, one crop is such that no one can effectively exploit outside the area of cultivation, – and what is the result… it is languishing in obscurity. Nigeria for example which is the world’s largest producer of cassava is also a great importer of starch. Transformation of cassava beyond local consumable forms into exportable components is by and large left for a future yet unknown generation. The few factories that attempt to convert cassava into other marketable components are mostly located far from the areas of production. This is the plight of cassava – so good a crop, grows in some extreme conditions, provides different forms of local consumption but a crop which completely hates travelling in its natural form and unfortunate to belong to a people who seem to hate transforming anything beyond the point of local consumption.
Yes! Cassava typifies the African plight. A continent so richly blessed but yet thinks that her successful transformation only lies beyond her shores. When this transformation fails to come, she becomes the sleeping giant. Mighty in herself yet ineffective in creating any influence beyond her shores. Full of potential, yet without the ability to market herself beyond her immediate surroundings.
This is the plight of cassava! Serving all masters but receiving pittances in the form of wages. Enough for subsistence but never enough to save for a rainy day. Enough to satisfy current wants but never thought of as a form of long-term investment. But like any other plight, there is a remedy! Cassava can get her rightful place in the world if and only if Africans begin to invest in the transformation of the crop both for longterm domestic consumption and for foreign markets. If foreign markets will not eat eba or drink garri, they will certainly need starch, ethanol, paper. adhesives, corrugated boards, gums, wallpaper, textile, wood furniture, particle board, biofuels, dusting powders, drugs, plastic, packaging, stain remover, and moisture sequester, which are all produced from cassava.
If this is done, there is no way cassava will not receive a fair wage for her services. After all, a labourer deserves her wages!
Could it be that people refuse to see the truth or I am just being paranoid to question the rationale of France holding a fundraiser to help Mali?
Wednesday saw many countries converge in Brussels to fund-raise and the sole intention is said to have been to help re-build Mali. All the Countries attending a fundraising conference for Mali on Wednesday pledged €3.25 billion ($4.22 billion) to rebuild the war-torn country.
It is acknowledged that the pledged funds exceeded expectations among conference hosts, including French President François Hollande, who had initially set the bar at €2 billion. According to Hollande, this “marks an important step forward in the social, economic and democratic renewal of Mali,”
The question then I cannot avoid asking is: Could it be that the money that Mali is going to be needing so desperately be actually used for the salary of the French soldiers stationed there? Come to think of it, if the objective of raising the funds is to ensure that structures are put in place before elections, what better structure than security… which of course is being provided by the French.
Could this be one way the money raised will be used to help Mali?
If that is the case, could it then be that Mali is just being used as a stepping stone towards solving the recession in France after the game plan in Libya did not work out as planned?
It is really appalling to think that the French which have the worst legacy in Africa, which cannot handle its domestic affairs keep claiming to be able to solve African problems.
When I cast a casual glance at Africa, the most worse-off countries are those that were colonised by the French. The most out-of-touch dictators are in French dominated countries and the worst countries in Africa are former French colonies ((Bénin,Burkina Faso,Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo (Democratic Republic of) Congo (Republic of) Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Sénégal,Togo))
Have the French really got anything to offer Africa? One does not really need to go far to find the answer. Can a sick economy really help another? Can an economy that is threatened by imminent collapse and seriously considering unworkable austerity measures, plunging many of its citizens out of work really be concerned about another? The answer is obvious. But as usual, African leaders will sit by while the continent is being ravaged by foreign forces.
Considering that the United Kingdom was solidly behind France in this recent invasion of Mali, given that France is the second largest economy of the European Union, given even the location of the so-called fundraiser for Mali, I can now see again any angle of the recolonization of Africa for the survival of Europe.
Anyone who followed the three US Presidential debates (Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney) and the VP Debate (Ryan Paul Vs Joe Biden) may have noticed something I noticed in the last Presidential debate. While it was meant to be a debate on Foreign Policy, both Presidential Candidates seemed more comfortable with ‘taking’ the debate back home to domestic discussions. This may seem unusual to those who expected to hear the candidates thrill viewers and the electorate with their policies for the next four years, but the reality is that it is far from being unusual given the recent state of US foreign policy. Two things could be deduced from the debate
First, some of the US electorate are not interested in what the foreign policy of their presidents are, hence to convince the undecided voters, attention had to be drawn constantly to domestic policy.
Secondly, the candidates really had nothing to sell in terms of foreign policy.
In fact for the most part, both Obama and Romney were in agreement on almost every aspect of US Foreign policy – from Iraq, to Libya, to Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Iran. The only notable difference was that while Obama thought he was doing enough and needed to sustain that (something which Republican Former Secretary of State Colin Powell agrees with), Romney thought there was need to go much further. They differed therefore only on the intensity of sanctions, the time frame for troop-withdrawals and the manner of interventions. However, whether Romney is a ‘whopper’ or not, is really of no consequence but I daresay that for him to have tagged Obama’s Middle East visit an ‘Apology tour’ means he may not be realising the changing tide of US Foreign Policy. This should not be surprising since the current policy is largely due to lessons learned from the mistakes created by people who thought like Romney.
The lessons from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and even Syria are enough to make any US president think twice before talking as if declaring war on the first provocation, or carrying out an outright intervention, or even challenging China is fashionable. The laid-back attitude of the USA is one that therefore makes one wonder if they will soon be reconsidering isolationism or if they are simply adopting a new strategy.
Lessons From Afghanistan…
Upon the ousting of the USSR from Afghanistan in 1979, the USA thought they had scored a major victory and surely there would have been pats on backs when the USSR finally collapsed 10 years later. But just about 11 years after the collapse of the USSR, the biggest attack on American soil in recent memory took place and is largely acclaimed to have been hatched in Afghanistan. Some may therefore wonder if it would have been better if the USSR had stayed on in Afghanistan. Without thinking, Bush went on to declare war against the Taliban – a war that has not only consumed great numbers of US and NATO troops but one that has decimated large civilian populations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and keeps terrorising people through incessant drone attacks. Most significant to this is the fact that the 2014 deadline for withdrawal does not signal victory for the USA and her allies. A lesson must surely have been learned.
Iraq: Anything to Learn?
Iran is considered today to be a serious threat to the USA and Israel especially if they succeed in getting a nuclear weapon. In the 1980’s this same Iran was caught in a long-drawn war with Iraq, a war that ended in what can be termed an ‘uneasy understanding’ between the two countries. In 1990/91, Operation Desert Storm against Iraq weakened the country considerably, and in 2003, the invasion by George W. Bush, which led to the killing of Saddam Hussein threw the country in to complete chaos and created a power vacuum, one that is quickly being filled by Iran, especially given the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The US withdrew without achieving anything positive both for them and the Iraqis by the intervention. A lesson was surely learned.
Paying a New Price in Libya – Lesson for Syria?
The above two cases may have sent a warning note to the US about interfering too much, hence, when it got to Libya, they took a passive position initially and left France and the UK to take the lead. When it became very tough for NATO and the war was dragging on more than anticipated, the US had to come in, or fallout with her European allies. They did and killed Gaddafi and a puppet regime was installed. Less than a year later, on the anniversary of 9/11, the US again paid a big price. While the UK ambassador was earlier targeted, he was luckier than his US counterpart. Unfortunately, there is no one in Libya for the USA to go after directly, so the withdrawal attitude this time was to divert the cause of the attack to religious fundamentalism.
In the light of this, it is not surprising therefore that the USA has been taking a different attitude towards Syria. Though out-rightly seeking the overthrow of Al Assad, supporting rebel factions and admitting it will be a blow if Al Assad does not fall eventually, they have been reluctant to push enough to get full scale Libya-style ‘humanitarian’ intervention. No matter how Syria plays out in the end therefore, the US will not be able to claim any direct role in its outcome. Hence, if it turns out sour, they will not be responsible, though that will mean Iran’s influence will extend to the Mediterranean. But if it turns out the way the US wants, their objective of isolating Iran will have been realised. The long and short of all this is that the USA is gradually slowing down on its role as the self-acclaimed policeman of the world.
Isolationism – Maybe Not
From George Washington’s farewell speech, to the First World War, the USA showed great reluctance to becoming involved in European alliances and wars. Their policy of Isolationism is based on the view that America’s perspective on the world was different from that of European societies and that America could advance the cause of freedom and democracy by means other than war. This worked well until their brief involvement in WW I against the Central Powers. Their later rejection of the Treaty of Versailles and consequently never becoming a member of the League of Nations, meant that the interwar years was a quick return to isolationism. However, it is worthy of mention that US isolationism did not mean complete disengagement from the world stage. The United States continued to be a world player and to further its territorial, ideological and economic interests, particularly in the Western Hemisphere.
Coming into WW II in 1940 against Germany and Japan in 1941, seemed to have been the final blow to Isolationism, especially with the USA actively participating in the formation of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The post war Marshal Plan and the onslaught of the Cold War meant the USA had reached the point of no return – at least until events of the last decade and most importantly, the last few years.
But is the USA again going to isolationism? I really think not. The reason is simple – while the US Presidential candidates discussed different aspects of Foreign Policy, there was no direct mention of their active role in Africa, (except the moments when Romney mentioned Mali and Libya as parts of happenings in the Middle East).
Africa – Integral Part of a New Strategy?
The non-mention of Africa is no ordinary omission given that just last year President Obama deployed 100 U.S. troops to Uganda to conduct a search for Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in what I questioned whether it was a mission of Liberation or Reconolisation. If that question seemed out of place then, it may not anymore given that the Army Times news service recently stated that the U.S. plans to deploy more than 3,000 soldiers to Africa in 2013.
It is therefore obvious that the US is not really thinking of Isolationism in the pre-1940 style, because, while they may have been taking a back seat attitude following recent losses and setbacks especially in the Middle East, their attitude in Africa has been one of active colonisation. This is especially when one thinks of operations such as “Cutlass Express”, the naval exercise that focused on fighting piracy in the Somali Basin region; “Africa Endeavor 2012” in Cameroon aimed at coordinating and training military communications and the Battalion Intervention Rapide in the same Cameroon (initially said to be aimed at fighting armed terrorism along the northern borders, but which has effectively become a force stationed in the Naval base of Limbe and was used to help Biya crackdown on protests in 2008 and change the constitution that helped him hold on to power)
Others such as the “Southern Accord 12” in Botswana aimed at establishing a military working relationship between southern African military forces and the U.S, and the “Western Accord 2012” in Senegal that involved every type of military operation from fire exercises, intelligence gathering to combat marksmanship inter alia, really puts to rest any speculations that the USA is adopting any form of isolationism soon.
Since Africa was obviously the ‘elephant in the room’ during the debate, it therefore, makes one wonder what the new strategy is. Whatever it is, it is one that has this attitude of staying in the shadows and masquerading under the pretext of alliances. But if they are real strategic alliances that stand to benefit both the US and Africa, then would it have been so conspicuously absent from a debate on Foreign Policy? Or was it – maybe not really, especially when one considers that statements like ‘I will go after China’ could only mean making Africa the battleground.
As the saying goes – ‘When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’ hence AFRICOM if anything, signals danger for Africa because one cannot help but beg the question as to whose interest such a force stands to serve.
The first port-of-call towards getting real development in Africa, will be to dispel the myth that political independence was fully won by the Africans from their former colonial masters. This is simply because political independence could never have been achieved in a situation of gross economic dependence especially in the case of former French colonies. The granting of formal political independence by the colonial powers to their erstwhile colonies, was (with a few exceptions), never the achievements of popular based national liberation movements as is commonly understood but rather the result of a compromise reached between the former colonial powers and an almost negligible African bourgeoisie they created. A compromise aimed at continuing the dependent-satellite status on a new basis and in the face of growing challenges to the international capitalist system.
One of such is the French policy of Assimilation that claimed to have ended but in reality created monetary Unions that have continued to have their former colonies trapped in poverty. Amilcar Cabral in his work, The Struggle in Guinea, clearly states that decolonization gave western imperialism a new lease on life by permitting the continued economic exploitation of the African states through indirect means. In other words, decolonization has made it possible for an alliance between the local bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie of the capitalist metropoles to emerge-an alliance which, on the one hand permits the local bourgeoisie to share in the benefits derived from the continued exploitation of their countries by western capitalism and on the other hand, frees the capitalists from the onus of direct domination of these countries.
Cabral’s position is given greater credence by this compelling write-up by Dr. Christof Lehman, who uses historical and contemporary evidence to x-ray the plight of Francophone Africa and the far-reaching consequences on the whole European Economy.
Since the independence of the former French colonies in western Africa they are in spite of the richness of their natural resources and the productivity of their populations still catastrophically under-developed. In 2007 the French and European economies began deteriorated into a devastating recession. France seems to be like a man who is standing at the edge of a cliff, transfixed by the thought of falling into the abyss. In fear of losing the lucrative racket of controlling the western African economies he forgets that there is Terra firma and a possibility for both French, European and African prosperity behind him. Africans and leading European politicians expected that the administration of President Hollande would bring much-needed change with respect to French control over the economies of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea Bisau, Mali, Niger, the Republic of Congo, Senegal and Togo. However, also Hollande´s administration seems to be so transfixed by the prospect of falling into the abyss that it does not fathom the possibility of taking one step back. Will France remain transfixed in fear and drag western Africa and Europe with it when it falls or does it dare to loosen up its grip on control over the good old CFA racket in its former colonies and discover the true potential and value of the African markets. As painful as it may be, the primary prerequisite for a progressive development and prosperity is the truth about the current state of affairs.
The root causes for the lacking development of the western African economies are closely related to the fact that France, contrary to other former colonial powers, managed to install its commissars at the heart of its former colonies economic and monetary system and that it still maintains almost unchallenged control over them. The system was created by German National Socialists during the 1930s and 40s. It was used to usurp France and other German occupied nations.
The Genesis of the CFA-System in Nazi Germany and the German Occupation of France.
On 9 May 1941 Hemmen, the German Ambassador to France declared that he had signed a treaty with the French Admiral Darlan. The treaty would place German commissars within the French National Bank´s departments for foreign currencies and international commerce.(1) The treaty was negotiated under the auspices of German Minister of Finance Herman Göring, whose father, Heinrich Ernst Göring has been the German Governor of German West Africa, today’s Namibia, from 1885 to 1890. Herman Göring was among other notorious for his plundering the occupied nations economies through operations accounts and for his special interest in treasures and art from the German occupied areas.
At the end of World War II and the occupation of France, the French President Charles de Gaulle created the CFA Franc as a currency for the western African colonies. De Gaulle created a monetary union whose functions of control were based on the model Germany had used to usurp German occupied France.
Even though the colonies have since gained independence the system of almost absolute control over their economies by installment of commissars in the Central Banks of the western African Monetary and Economic Unions, the B.E.A.C., the B.C.C., and the B.C.E.A.O. persists.
Modo-Colonialism, the Veto Right of French Commissars over African Economies
Together, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, the Republic of Congo, Senegal and Togo, establish the Monetary and Economic Union of West Africa (U.M.O.A.). Their currency, the CFA-Franc is printed under supervision of the French National Bank in Charmaliéres, France. The Council of Presidents of the fifteen U.M.O.A. member states constitutes the highest authority of the union and decisions of the Presidential Council are made unanimously. The Ministerial Council of the U.M.O.A. defines the monetary and credit policy of the union and it is responsible for the economic development of the region. According to the constitutions of all fifteen member states the creation of their currency, the regulation of its value as well as the regulation of parities and modalities is the exclusive privilege of the nation and its people and decisions about it are made by the parliament.
The placement of French commissars within the heart of the nations and the unions banking system however, creates an obvious dichotomy between the apparent sovereignty of the union, its constituents, and direct control from the previous colonial power.
Three of the thirteen of the Directors of the B.E.A.C. are French and four of the eight Directors of the B.C.C. are French. The Board of Directors of the B.C.E.A.O. is constituted by sixteen Directors; two from each country plus two additional Directors from France who take part in the management of the bank under the same conditions and with the same privileges as the other Directors. The number and placement of the commissars gives them a Veto right at the board of each of the Central Banks. No decision can be made without their approval and France can enforce its policy by threatening to deadlock the economies unless decisions are made in compliance with French suggestions.
The French Veto right also extends to the nomination of the Governor of the B.E.A.C.. The Governor is elected with the unanimous vote of the Board of Directors, on suggestion of the government of Gabon, and after the approval of the other member states as well as France.(2)
The Central Bank does not only have the privilege to create the currency. It also has the privilege to grant credits for the current accounts of the national treasuries at its discount rate. The Board of Directors is making the decisions about the temporalities and about the total amount that is granted for financing the economies of each of the member states.
Feeding France, Bleeding Africa – Current Accounts and the System of Usurpation.
While the primary instrument of control is the installment of French commissars, the primary instrument for usurping the western African economies is their current accounts. The member states agree to deposit their foreign currency reserves in a shared reserve fund.
The foreign currency reserves are subject to deposition in an operations account at the French National Bank. Between 1945 and 1973 one hundred per cent of the foreign currency reserves had to be deposited in the operations account, in 1973 it was reduced to sixty-five, and on 27. September 2005 to fifty per cent. (3) Another fifteen per cent are kept in a guarantee fund.
In other words sixty-five per cent of all foreign currency reserves of the fifteen nations and all revenue generated outside of the union’s territory are kept at the French National Bank. On 3 May 2010 the website of Jeune Afrique quotes the former French Minister of Finance and Commerce, Christine Lagarde: “The Bank of the States of Central Africa, for instance, places almost 90 per cent of their reserves in the French National Bank”. (4)
In 1960 Jean Boissonat, a member of the currency committee of the French National Bank wrote: “Almost all decisions were made in France … The Franc Zone allowed France to deliver certain natural resources to itself without having to spend any foreign reserves. It was estimated that this represented two hundred and fifty million US-Dollar savings in terms of foreign reserves per year …” Boissonat continues by stating that approximately half a million Frenchmen in Paris receive their means of survival from the Franc Zone.(5)
The French socialist Jean-Noël Jeanny wrote in 1963 that: “all that the African nations achieve by increasing their export is the generation of more foreign currency reserves for France”.(6) He could as well have added “and the creation of debt for themselves”. Beside profiting on African foreign currency reserves which are returned to the West African nations in the form of debt, France is also profiting from African gold.
The gold reserves of the fifteen nations are kept in France, supposedly to guaranty for the value of the CFA Franc. In 2001 the West-African gold reserves at the French National Bank had an estimated value of 206,528 billion CFA Franc. In an interview for Le Liberation in 1996 the late President of Gabon, Omar Bongo said: “We are in the Franc Zone. Our operations accounts are managed by the French National Bank in Paris. Who profits from the interests that our money generates? France.” (7)
France is indebting and enslaving Africans by means of Africa’s own wealth; for example:
12.0000 billion invested at three per cent creates 360 billion in interests which France grants as credits to Africa at an interest rate of five to six per cent or more. The allegory of “Bleeding Africa and Feeding France” is no exaggeration, not alarmist, and not revolutionary. It is a sobering fact of French modo-colonialism and the cost in terms of under-development and human suffering is staggering. The current accounts and the French usurpation are a humanitarian disaster that is induced by France and financed by those who are suffering from it.
Coups, Crisis and French Finance-Nazism in Africa.
In 1996 France devalued the CFA Franc in spite of the protest of most western African nations. Former French Prime Minister Eduard Balladour justified the French dictated devaluation of the CFA Franc because “ it was considered to be the best possibility for aiding the development of the western African countries” (8), even though another statement by Balladoure indicates that he was aware of that the regulation of a currency is a matter of national sovereignty(9).
The late President of Togo, Etienne Gnassingbé said about the devaluation: “One used to say that violence overrules justice. I was not the only one who issued the warning….. but France has decided otherwise. The African voices don´t count for much in this affair”.(10)
The words of the late Etienne Gnassingbé indicate that the Bleeding of Africa can be taken literally. According to the statutes of the monetary and economic union every member state is free to leave it. So much to theory. In practice, France has left a trail of post-modern coup d’états, violence, and murder in those nations who tried to get out from under what many West-Africans perceive as French Finance-Nazism in Africa.
In January 1963 the President of Togo, the late Sylvanus Olympio was murdered three days before the issuing of a new currency.
On 19th November 1968 the late President of Mali Modibo Kéita was ousted in a coup and arrested. In 1977 Modibo Kéita died in prison. Kéita was poisoned.
On 27th January 1996 the President of Mali was ousted in a military coup d´etat.
On 15th March 2003 the late President of the Central African Republic Angè Félix Patassé was ousted by the “rebel leader” Francois Bozizé. In all cases the monetary union and France have played a role.
Ivory Coast´s President Laurent Gbagbo, France, the ICC and Modo-Colonialism.
When Laurent Gbagbo became the President of Ivory Coast one of his first official initiatives was the erection of a concrete wall in the tunnel that connects the French Embassy with the Presidential Residence. Gbagbo wanted Ivory Coast to abandon the CFA and institute a new regional and if possible a Pan-African, gold-backed currency. The initiative toward the establishment of a gold-backed Pan-African currency enjoyed the sympathy of many African nations and enjoyed unequivocal support from Libya, which until the so-called Arab Spring in 2011 was the richest and most developed of all African nations.
As if it was a conditioned reflex, France seemed transfixed by is fear of falling into the abyss, of losing the CFA racket that has kept the French economy afloat since it was conceived by de Gaulle in 1945. Rather than seeing a potential, France was biding its time until an opportunity for a post-modern coup d’état. The 2010 Presidential elections in Ivory Coast provided this opportunity. France sided with Alessanne Outtara. Libyan intelligence reports from 2009 and 2010 indicated that the French Intelligence Service D.G.S.E. had begun infiltrating, financing and arming a group of “rebels” in the northern region of Ivory Coast.
The outcome of the Presidential election was apparently very close. The electoral commission declared Alessanne Outtara the winner but the election result was disputed by Laurent Gbagbo.
There had been registered serious irregularities. In one particular village with a population of approximately ten thousand, Alessanne Outtara seemed to have received almost one hundred thousand votes.
Western mainstream media began building a narrative: The electoral commission had declared Outtara to be the winner. The despotic Laurent Gbagbo refused to hand over the reins of power to the winner of the elections. Gbagbo is cracking down on peaceful protesters. Gbagbo is cornered in his bunker…
What western media generally failed to report, underreported, or conveyed in a distorted and strongly biased fashion was that: Laurent Gabgbo and his party had brought the case to the Supreme Court; that the Supreme Court of Ivory Coast had recounted the votes; that the Supreme Court had taken notice of election fraud in favour of Outtara; and that the Supreme Court of Ivory Coast had declared Laurent Gbagbo to be the winner of the elections and the rightfully elected President of Ivory Coast. That French-backed guerrilla began attacking predominantly pro-Gbagbo villages, committing massacres, and that French backed “rebels” were attacking the Presidential Residence.
What was emphatically reported in French and western media like the BBC was that “security forces” clamped down on peaceful protesters, and that “Ouattara´s Army” is cornering “Gbagbo in his bunker”.(11)
Nobody seemed to ask the important question. Where in the world had Outtara, who just claimed to have won the elections, gotten an “army” from?
It is symptomatic for the high prevalence of racism and condescending modo-colonialist reasoning among European populations that only very few commentators and analysts said:
“But the electoral commission is not the one who has the competence to approve of election results, it is the Supreme Court”.
A comparison can illustrate the point: When George W. Bush and Al Gore had the closest of all elections that have been held in the United States of America; who certified the election? The Supreme Court, of course. (12)
Many Americans felt utterly disenfranchised but the population respected the Supreme Court. Could anyone have even thought about the remote possibility of “Al Gore´s Army cornering Bush in his Bunker” of “Gore neglecting the Supreme Court because the electoral commission had pronounced him to be the winner?” And where in the world would Al Gore have gotten his army from anyways? And where did Alessanne Outtara get his army from?
The capture of Laurent Gbagbo cost the lives of approximately 1.600 young Ivorian soldiers. Young patriots who were willing to defend the President of Ivory Coast from the onslaught of a French-backed post-modern coup d’état. The capture an arrest of President Laurent Gbagbo was possible only after French Special Forces violated international law by blasting a hole into the wall which Laurent Gbagbo had erected inside the tunnel that connects the French embassy with the Presidential residence.
The sealed boxes with the ballots from the 2010 elections are kept at the United Nations. So far U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has failed to order an independent re-count of the ballots. The fact that the United Nations has so far failed to re-count the ballots to determine the legitimacy of either Laurent Gbagbo´s or Alessanne Outtara´s claim for the Ivorian Presidency, combined with the selective and one-sided prosecution of Laurent Gbagbo at the ICC and of military officers who were loyal to him in 2010 is symptomatic for grave systemic and procedural problems at the United Nations and the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The case against Laurent Gbagbo ought to have been dismissed on the basis of selective prosecution from the very start. His prosecution at the ICC after French involvement in the aggravation of post-election violence in Ivory Coast and the arrest with the aid of French Special Forces is a blatant example for the abuse of the ICC as an instrument of modo-colonialist control. The most recent selectively prosecuted case is that against General Dogbo Ble in Ivory Coast. Also here western media are de-facto sentencing a political opponent of modo-colonialism before he is even heard in court.(13)
A recent analysis of the systemic and political problems with the ICC, the United Nations, the Rome Statute and the explosion of international law at its very root by Dr. Hans Köchler (14) reads as if it was written to elicit the injustice that is being perpetrated against Laurent Gbagbo and the people of Ivory Coast.
Missed Chances for African and European Economies and the Urgency of Change.
A growing number of African and European leaders are becoming impatient about the paralysis of France. African leaders are impatient because the obvious usurpation of their nations is unbearable for the African economies and their populations. European leaders are mostly impatient because France prevents a European adaptation to the last decades geo-political changes in Africa and because the crisis of the Euro requires initiative rather than stagnation. Failure to integrate the western African economies into the economic sphere of Europe is bound to have devastating long term consequences for both Africa and Europe.
China has recognized the colossal market potential of a developing African middle class. The French and Trans-Atlantic model of usurpation and subjugation is not only criminal and unethical, it is also uncompetitive.
Recent statements made by the French political heavyweight Jacques Chiraq, who said that France does not have to be a benefactor, it must merely stop usurping Africa, are indicating a potential for change. Chiraq stated that failure to change French-African relations can have catastrophic consequences. 2012 Presidential candidate Jean Luc Mélenon stated that the CFA represents the severe mistake not to tie the western African economies to the economies of the European Union. Mélenon demanded that France abandons its veto right at the Boards of the African Central Banks.
The European Council stated that France is blocking for any project of the European Central Bank that attempts to change the nature or the bearing of the French involvement in the western African Central Banks. The French approach to managing French-African relations is not only bleeding Africa. It is increasingly bleeding both the French and European economies that are missing out on the market potential of an emerging African middle class.
Some political analysts have suggested the establishment of an African-European Peace and Reconciliation Commission that is dealing with the crimes of the past, the building of trust, the review of highly politicized cases at the International Criminal Court, such as the prosecution of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to ease a transition toward new African-European relations.
The question for this and the coming year is whether France will continue standing at the edge of the cliff and fall while dragging both western Africa and Europe into the abyss together with it, or if it dares to listen to the voices of reason from Africa and its European partners, turn its gaze away from the abyss and see that there is fertile land, right behind it.
Dr. Christof Lehmann
“I want to express my recognition and gratitude to Prof. Nicolas Agbohou. The historical context of the article and references about it are inspired by his speech at the Conference on African-French Relations in Paris City Hall, on 09 October 2012. – Dr. Christof Lehmann.”
1) Pierre Arnold (1951), Les finances de la France et l´occupation Allemande.
2) Artikel 3 de la BEAC.
3) Article 2 of the Agreement about Operations Accounts between France and the African Nations within the Franc Zone (PAZF).
4) Website of Jeune Afrique, 03. Mai 2010.
5) Jean Boissonat. La Zone Franc: Survivance du Passé Ou Promesse d´Avenir. La Croix, 17 févenier 1960.
6) Jean-Noël Jeanny. Rapport Jeanny; La politique de coopération avec les pays en vaie de dévelopment. Paris, documentation francaise 1963.
7) Omar Bongo. Interwiew for Le Liberation, 18. September 1996, p.6.
8) Jeune Afrique. Economie no 178, April 1994.
9) E. Balladour in Le Monde, 09. February 1990. Lire aussie Géopolitique de printemps No 53, 1996, p.81
10) Jeune Afrique no 1841, 17 – 23 April 1996, p. 38.
It is indeed a compelling Documentary and a must-watch for as I did, I came to realise that the scramble, partition, and colonization of Africa saw the continent divided among different competing powers which went to great lengths to sap the continent of its vast riches. While the British adopted the colonial policy of ‘Indirect Rule’, The Portuguese and the French adopted the policy of assimilation. This was informed by the fact that they portrayed nothing good in the African, and by their policy made Africans to despise their own cultural values and attempt to adopt western values at the expense of their rich African heritage. Hence, Africa was divided among European countries for the purpose of exploitation, suppression and domination for one obvious reason, and that was economic predisposition.
The Europeans petitioned African nations, repositioned themselves, and became ‘owners’ of everything in Africa that were of any value. African nations were subjected to foreign domination and exploitation. This situation was exacerbated when most of the academic and religious orientation of some of the first breed of Africans was aimed at continuing the legacy of slavery and colonialism in new forms – even in an era where there is so much talk about human rights, freedom and political self-determination.
<<< Crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, poor education, inferiority complex, low expectation, poverty, corruption, poor health, and underdevelopment plagues people of African descent globally – Why? 500 years later from the onset of Slavery and subsequent Colonialism, Africans are still struggling for basic freedom-Why? Filmed in five continents, and over twenty countries, 500 Years Later engages the authentic retrospective voice, told from the African vantage-point of those whom history has sought to silence by examining the collective atrocities that uprooted Africans from their culture and homeland. 500 Years Later is a timeless compelling journey, infused with the spirit and music of liberation that chronicles the struggle of a people who have fought and continue to fight for the most essential human right – freedom.>>>
The 500 Years Later (2005) movie written by M. K. Asante, Jr. and directed by Owen ‘Alik Shahadah, with five international awards to its credit, is a penetrating documentary that looks at history from an African perspective. It depicts the problems people of African descent continue to encounter today and finding their roots in history. Filmed on location all over the world, this film covers issues ranging from slavery to the civil rights movement and from colonialism to poverty. The movie further depicts those who died due to famine, diseases, and social dislocation aboard ships that took them to Europe in order to build empires. It is now half a century since Ghana got its independence as the first African State after colonisation, but Africa is still bereft of any meaningful economic and technological development. It is a cause for concern for any well meaning African. This has led A.M. Babu when writing the postscript of Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, to query;
…..What, we may ask, has gone wrong? Is it inherent in the very nature of underdevelopment that makes development an impossible task? Among the many prescriptions that have been offered, e.g., cultural, social, psychological, even economic-none has produced any encouraging result, in fact, nearly all of them have had negative results, and made bad situations worse.
The questions raised by Babu receive a cogent examination in 500 Years Later. While the movie deals with issues such as crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, poor education, inferiority complex, low expectation, poverty, corruption, poor health, and underdevelopment among others, this critical review will focus on some of the broad themes that cuts across the different issues raised in the documentary to evaluate where the problems really lie. Is it justified that Africans should be perpetually held by the bondage of their past or should they forget it and move on?
If there is one theme that runs through the movie 500 Years Later, it is the notion of a people who have been perennially exploited for the good of others. It captures on-screen what Walter Rodney captured in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. The importance of bringing such an issue to the limelight can be seen in the fact that the Occupy Protests that raged across many cities in the world all aimed at fighting the excesses of Capitalism which is inherently exploitative. This is what 500 Years Later captures so well. It shows clearly that the present day form of capitalism crept into Africa, in the 19th century with the arbitrary partition and colonisation of Africa. This was as a result of some weaknesses which Africa had. Rodney (2005) recognises some of them as “the concept of weakness, and inadequate economic capacity, as well as certain political weaknesses namely; the incompleteness of the establishment of nation states which left the continent divided and the low level of consciousness concerning the world at large which had already been transformed into a single system by the expansion of capitalist relations. (p. 174)
Of the two weaknesses, Africans were able the overcome the latter, as they gradually got opportunities to study and acquire more knowledge about the world at large. Most of the first breed of Africans who got fully educated strove to overcome the other weakness. These were the African Nationalists like Kwame Nkrumah, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Julius Nyerere, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Patrice Lumumba, Samora Marcel among others. But unlike Europe and America who had to determine their future with little or no external influence, the case of Africa was different. The gullibility of most Africans led to their being pitched against each other. The result was general political instability, coups and counter coups, civil wars, etc. Within such circumstances, there was little or no room to make any meaningful economic advancement.
500 Years later clearly addresses the main issues of slavery and colonialism, it does also explicitly address another question, which is, why the many prescriptions for the African problem seem to be making no headway even after 500 years. This is the question of neo-colonialism. For example, neo-colonialism played and still plays a major role in Africa’s post-independence economic stagnation. Neo-colonial relationships can be seen to be the product of the transfer of formal political power to a class created by, and dependent upon western capitalism. This relationship receives a cogent description from Hodgkin (1969) who says ”Neo-colonialism” tends to be regarded as something of a dirty word, to be used-if at all- in inverted commas, reflecting the shocking lack of gratitude of the formal colonial peoples for the benefits which they continue to receive from the former colonial powers and from the west in general. But in fact, it is an entirely necessary way of describing the situations arising out of false-decolonization”.
Cabral (1979) also describes the real character of decolonisation and the context in which it took place as an objective of the imperialist countries to prevent the spread of socialism in Africa through the liberation of reactionary forces which had hitherto been stifled by colonialism and allowing these to ally with the international bourgeoisie. The end result of this was the creation of a bourgeoisie class where one did not exist so as to strengthen the capitalist and imperialist camp. This done, the bourgeoisie in the new countries had a role which, “…far from being anything surprising should be considered absolutely normal; it is something that has to be faced by all those struggling against imperialism” (p. 442)
Cabral’s (1979) analysis ties in with that of 500 Years Later which depicts that social differentiation was initiated in Africa during the colonial period. Although it is a fact that antagonistic social differences had already emerged in Africa long before European contact, the impact of European trade, followed by colonial rule greatly transformed the fabric of the African society and produced a new and more accentuated social cleavages. As Amin (1979) confirms “the complete colonization of West Africa had two principal social effects: the acceleration of the decadence of the primitive community and the reinforcement of traditional class difference on the one hand, the introduction and development of a new class differences linked to the capitalist exploitation of the continent on the other hand” (p. 36)
Fanon (1963) who labels this new class the ‘national middle class’ or national bourgeoisie’ of the African countries blasts them for compromising the goals of the national liberation movements and permitting a ‘false decolonization’ to take place. Fanon clearly states that the mission of these national bourgeoisie “has nothing to do with transforming the nation” as it is content with playing “the role of the western bourgeoisie’s business agent” and serving as the local instrument of neo-colonialism (152-153).
Fanon (1963) further characterises this strata of the society as an ‘underdeveloped’ middle class’, since it has little or no independent economic power and no capability or inclination to play the historical role performed by the bourgeoisie of the western society. Thus, he states that the national bourgeoisie: “is a bourgeoisie in spirit only….consequently, it remains at the beginning and for a long time afterwards a bourgeoisie of the civil service…..it will always reveal itself incapable of giving birth to an authentic bourgeoisie society with all the economic and industrial consequences which this entails.
Caught up in this relationship and without an economic power base, of its own, the bourgeoisie has no choice than to become the willing accomplice of neo-colonialism and rely upon an authoritarian dictatorship to maintain its domination and privileges, ready to do anything to stay rooted in this position. Having being established as a ruling class, the bourgeoisies generally enriched themselves at the public’s expense through public graft and corruption as well as deals with foreign capitalists.
As a consequence, there has been increasing obligation of the bourgeoisie to foreign interests who are only too glad to offer loans, grants, and credits which will keep the bourgeoisie in debt to them. Thus in a bid to finance this conspicuous consumption and at the same time service the debts incurred, the bourgeoisie have mortgaged both the local economy and the state to foreign capital, in some cases, in the name of “privatization” Hence, the operating budget of most of the African states are totally dependent upon loans and grants from one or more of the major Western Powers, while local entrepreneurs and business men depend upon loans and credits from foreign banks and firms to finance their investments. The end result is a neo-colonial society, tied in a multiplicity of ways to foreign capital. With this state of affairs, it is clear that Africa’s quest for independence began on the wrong footing. The Bretton Woods institutions have not really helped matters. The loans given to most African states by the International Monetary Fund, accompanied by Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP), did no more than sap the African states of the little they had, leaving them with huge national debts to service
Another key theme running through 500 Years Later is the need for education or re-education of Africans with relation to their history. Rodney (2005) had made the point that “the educated Africans were the most alienated Africans on the continent. At each further stage of education, they were battered and succumbed to the white capitalist system, and after being given salaries, they could then afford to sustain a style of life imported from outside… That further transformed their mentality” (p.275) 500 Years Later affirms this by stating that “the kind of education that we have is to still enslave our minds, to make us believe we are inferior…” This is an issue that had already received cogent treatment from Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah (1959) acknowledged that the writings of Karl Marx and Lenin greatly impressed him; hence he felt that their philosophy was capable of solving the problem of imperialism and colonialism. Nkrumah (1962) felt that education was the key to the liberation from colonialism, which to him is “…White man’s burden which rest heavily upon the shoulders of the so-called “backward” people who have been subjugated, humiliated, robbed and degraded to the level of cattle (p.29)” Nkrumah saw in the policies of the colonial masters a lot of hypocrisy. In their crafty nature, they masked their real inhumane nature and evil intentions so well that it was very difficult for the people to notice. He describes what will pass today as neo-liberalism as being an attitude aimed at stifling the real independence of African nations. For Nkrumah (1962), “…the attitude of Britain, France, Spain, Italy and other colonial powers towards what they call “participation” by colonial peoples in colonial government and public affairs are half-way measures to keep them complacent and to throttle their aspiration for complete independence (p. 27). In the light of this, Nkrumah saw the need to present a model theory for the liberation of Africa, partly motivated by the hope that the Socialist movement in the world at the time would overtake the capitalist – imperialism that exploited Africa. Hence, in line with the objective of the author of 500 Years Later he wrote that “We have read articles, papers, pamphlets, and books on the subject and we are weary of the platitudes of their authors and distortion of facts. We have written as we see the facts and are indebted to no one but our conscience quickened by the rich revolutionary heritage of historical epochs”.
The point here is that many Africans having deciphered the distortions and platitude of European colonialism and now see the importance of knowledge in the African crusade of decolonization against European colonialism, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the African liberation and development. Knowledge is necessary for power and for action as Nkrumah (1962) wrote that “…there are vast numbers of ordinary Africans, who animated by a lively national consciousness, sort knowledge as an instrument of national emancipation and integrity. This is not to say that these Africans overlooked the purely cultural value of their studies. But in order that their cultural acquisition should be valuable, they needed to be capable of appreciating it as free men (p.4).
The whole idea is therefore that there is a pressing need for Africans to get engaged in the de-colonial campaign as free historical beings, since, “the main purpose of the organization is to bring about a final death of colonialism and the discountenance of foreign imperialist domination” (Nkrumah, 1962, p.41). This is because it was glaring that “outside interference does not help to develop their country, for it impedes and stifles and crushes not only economic progress, but the spirit and indigenous enterprise of the peoples themselves”(Nkrumah 1962, p.42). Hence, decolonization should have been seen as a major indigenous enterprise. Since it was an African ideological response, a philosophical responsibility of Africans to existential challenges of European colonialism Africans should be able to think along with Nkrumah, that de-colonisation is a theory of “what must be done” in responsible response to this dangerous foreign ideology against Africa and its citizens, nature and cultures. The writings of Nkrumah, Fanon, Rodney and others are just a few examples to support the message of 500 Years Later that the oppressed African spirit was only scorched by slavery but not killed, it was not discouraged in to naivety or total resignation, it was not wearied into inactivity, nor hoodwinked into self-annihilation.
While the movie 500 Years Later can be commended for doing a great job in touching on sensitive issues that are at the core of Africa’s woes, it is worth mentioning that it fails in a way in its treatment of the issue of conflict. Following the independence of most African states, there have been many conflicts whose causes cannot be tied down simply to ideology, slavery and colonialism. Some have attributed this to being a ‘curse’ arising from the abundance of Natural resources (Collier, 2007). This is fuelled by earlier views that an abundance of resources generates corruption of political institutions (Lane and Tornell, 1999). The argument has therefore been that corruption and the failure of governance structures in an environment of abundant resources increases the risk of civil conflict (Collier and Hoeffler, 2005). It is therefore worth insisting that a huge problem with Africa today, her unfortunate past notwithstanding, is the problem of bad governance and leadership.
500 Years Later is a great step towards getting the African story right. It depicts that the preservation of the basic relationship of western dominance and African dependence by other means after the formal transfer of power is still a key element in the continent’s underdevelopment. This is evident not only in the field of economic relations but as has been manifested in the resent bombardment of Libya by NATO forces, in the military, diplomatic, cultural, and educational terrains.
While 500 Years Later may have done a great job, this review has been aimed at showing that what M. K. Asante, Jr. and Owen ‘Alik Shahadah sought to achieve by movie had been expressed at different times by scores of scholars of African descent. What is therefore new about the movie is not really the information but the manner in which it has been communicated. The use of a movie means that people can sit down, relax and as a group go through the same story that Rodney or Nkrumah had expressed in print.
This movie and its sequel MOTHERLAND are therefore must-watches not only for African students but for students, academicians and scholars everywhere. In this era of globalisation, ignorance of Africa’s real history will no more be an advantage to any foreigner given that Africans are seeking not only to know the history of other continents but also to set theirs right. The effectiveness of all these however, will be reliant heavily on the condition that Africans first of all undergo what Ngugi Wa Thiongo calls the ‘decolonisation of the African mind’. This has to be, the complete shaking off of the psychological traumas of slavery and colonialism. Unless this stage is attained, Africans will continue to see situations where African leaders keep clamouring for foreign investors, without ever thinking of investing in their own citizens; situations where World economic conferences will be organised only for African leaders to attend and sit at the receiving end of the table; situations where African nations continue to be dumping grounds for outdated and ill fitted technology and technological know-how.
Amin, S. (1979) “The Class Struggle in Africa.” Revolution, Vol. I, no. 9 The African Research Group
Babu; A.M. Postscript to Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,
Cabral, A. (1979) The Struggle In Guinea, The African Research Group
Collier, P. (2007). The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Collier, P. and A. Hoeffler. (2005). Resource Rents, Governance, and Conflict. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 49(4): 625-33.
Fanon, F. (1963) The wretched of the Earth, New York: Grove Press
Hodgkin, T. (1969) Foreword to Green and Seidman’s Unity or Poverty?The Economics of Pan-Africanism Baltimore: Penguin
Lane, P.R. and Aaron Tornell. 1999. .The Voracity Effect. American Economic Review, 28, 22-46.
Nkrumah, K. (1959) The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah, London: Thomas Nelson Ltd.
Nkrumah; K. (1962) Towards Colonial Freedom. “Africa in the Struggle Against World Imperialism” London: Panaf Book Ltd.
Nkrumah; K. (1964) Consciencism, “Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonisation with Particular Reference to the African Revolution” London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.
Nkrumah; K. (1965) Neo-Colonialism, “The Last Stage of Imperialism” London: Panaf Books Ltd.
Rodney, W. (2005) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Abuja: Panaf Publishing Inc.
A few weeks ago, I published here a debate on weather contraceptives for Africa was a misplaced priority. While some sceptical persons like myself were of the opinion that Africa needed more education rather than pills, there were some who thought we were denying women their rights. Looking at this disturbing story by Maeve McClenaghan, I could not help but wonder.
Is there really a war against Africa’s future going on under the guise of protecting women?
If women can be sterilised without their knowledge, even when they are not at risk of having many kids, does that not account to the worst violations of their rights?
With NGOs like the US-based Project Prevention paying women living with HIV to have intrauterine birth control devices implanted, who is to say that the whole rhetoric about birth control in Africa is not clearly another silent war against the continent?
I am sure by the time you finish reading this story, you will ask many more questions – so happy reading!!!
When she went to hospital to give birth Amani had a lot on her mind. Not only are maternal mortality rates in Kenya worryingly high but during an ante-natal check-up Amani had been told that she was HIV positive. The expectant mother was reassured that delivering the baby by caesarean section was the safest way to avoid transmission of the virus to her child. So as she was wheeled in to the operating theatre she could be forgiven for thinking she was in safe hands. But her trust was misplaced. During the procedure, and without her knowledge or authorisation, Amani was sterilised.
She only ever found out what had happened by chance. ‘I discovered that tubal ligation had been done when I took my baby to the clinic after delivery,’ Amani said. ‘The nurse requested me to allow her to examine my wound, and in the process a colleague passed by and asked how the tubal ligation scar was healing. I did not know about it and only thought they had cut me because I was having a baby.’
Amani’s is not an isolated case. A new report by NGO African Gender and Media Initiative details 40 case studies of Kenyan women who have undergone forced or coerced sterilisation because they were HIV positive.
‘I thought they had cut me because I was having a baby’
The report makes shocking reading, some women find their husbands signing the medical papers, allowing doctors to perform the irreversible procedure to tie their fallopian tubes. Others unwittingly sign documents thrust in front of them during the chaos of labour, only to later discover what they had signed up to.
Several of the women interviewed reported being mistreated by the health care workers trained to support them. Nekeska gave birth in 2008 at Kakamega General Hospital. There she faced a barrage of abuse. According to Nekeska the doctor told her ‘It is an offence for women who are HIV positive to have children’ and said she was told she could only have the baby she was due to deliver if she agreed to be sterilized. Nekeska put up a fight and refused to sign the consent papers, but was sterilised anyway.
Many of the women coerced or forced into sterilisation report finding themselves ostracized, cast out from their martial homes with the double burden of infertility and their HIV status. Amani’s husband died of Aids in 2004 leaving her and her daughter. ‘In the last few years I have had three suitors but I had to stop the relationships because if I get married to them, then I will be abandoned when they discover I cannot have children’, she said.
According to the 2007 Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey nearly one out of every ten pregnant women in Kenya is infected with HIV. Children less than 15 years of age account for 16 percent of all HIV infections; most of these infections were acquired through mother-to-child transmission. However, the chances of HIV transmission from mother to baby can be virtually eliminated through use of anti-retroviral drugs during pregnancy and labour, and by delivering the baby via Caesarian section.
The report follows a Kenyan television news report in January which claimed that a US-based organisation Project Prevention was paying women living with HIV to have intrauterine birth control devices implanted. The Kenyan government reacted angrily to the news with the minister for medical services, Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, announcing ‘It is important to stress that even HIV-positive women have the right to have children if and when they desire. HIV doesn’t take that right away, not at all.’
However it is both local health care workers and international NGOs that are implicated in this new report. Provision from Medicin Sans Frontier and Marie Stopes is mentioned in some of the women’s testimony.
Betty discovered she was HIV positive in 1993. She had just given birth to her fourth baby when community health workers visited her home and she claims she was then asked to accompany them to meet Marie Stopes doctors. Hoping she might receive financial assistance from the NGO she went along to the mobile clinic. Betty reports that there she was given forms to sign but she says ‘No one told me what I was signing for. I thought it was part of the registration.’ She was then operated on. After the procedure she was told community health workers had earmarked her as someone who should be sterilised because she was HIV positive and had no husband or income.
Marie Stopes responded to the report stating that ‘The process described by Betty is absolutely contrary to Marie Stopes International’s values, policy and practice on informed consent. We take any non-compliance on this issue extremely seriously.’ The NGO goes on to state that some of the case studies highlight that the sexual health body can ‘work with organisations who refer clients to Marie Stopes Kenya to strengthen their policies and practices around informed consent, and this is something we will seek to do immediately.’
A growing trend? This is not the first time the issue of forced sterilisation has made the news. In June The Lancet reported on a government led sterilisation drive is Uzbekistan designed to control population growth. According to the report doctors received monthly sterilisation quotas and admited to tricking or pressuring women into the decision, or performing the operation without their consent, during caesarian sections.
The systematic Manufacturing of War, challenging Russia and China in Race for either Global Full Spectrum Dominance or Global Full Spectrum Devastation. A Comprehensive Analysis.
One cannot emphasize it often enough. Both the crisis in Syria, the crisis between West and East over Syria, and the explosive Iran nuclear debates are symptoms of a long-planned, cynically and systematically implemented US/NATO war plan against Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, and ultimately China. In the light of the tense and confrontational atmosphere between NATO/GCC, Syria, Iran, Russia and China, and before analyzing the latest evolutions of the crisis over Syria, it is incumbent to take a few steps step back. Without an understanding of the genesis of what is rapidly developing towards a serious threat of a global war it is unlikely that the warranted diplomatic as well as popular actions are taken.
Genesis – Pax Americana – The Race for Global Full Spectrum Dominance.
When Russia´s Chief of Staff states that Russia will reserve itself the right to a first strike against the recently activated NATO missile defense shield it is not a prop from the requisites of the Russian diplomatic box of tricks, used with the purpose to achieve the one or the other trade benefit, the relief of sanctions against an allied Iran or any other demand. It is a clear and unequivocal demand for guaranties for the safety of Russia and it´s allies. (1) It is a demand from a Russia that has been under threat ever since the discontinuation of the USSR, and the subsequent US and NATO demand for a Pax Americana and Global Full Spectrum Dominance. The reason why many Westerners have not perceived the fact that Russia has been threatened is, because the transgressions against Russian security have largely been marketed as initiatives for peace and cooperation, or defense against terrorism and rogue states, and who could be against terrorism and rogue states. One can not emphasize the importance of Vladimir Putin´s speech at the International Security Conference in Munich in 2007 enough, as a basis for understanding that NATO systematically, cynically and willfully has committed the one foreign affairs, domestic affairs, economic, as well as geo-political, security and military transgression against Russia after the other. Often under the guise of free trade, of a supposed “Partnership for Peace”, war on terrorism, human rights, and democracy.(2)
That the expansionism and threatening posture was not only designed to impress Russia, but that it would be scrupulously used by both the US and NATO, including Germany, that the alliance would not be shying away from manufacturing covert, and initiating over military aggressions in nations that are allied to Russia or that provide geo-political advantages for Russia or China has become evident since the war on Yugoslavia. A war that has been sold to the Western Public as a war for human rights, freedom and democracy.
Yugoslavia: A Missile for China and a Finger for Russia – China, one may recall, has gotten a warning shot straight into it´s Belgrade Embassy. The signal was clear. “Do not harbor the President of a Sovereign Nation who is on our death list and do not dare to interfere when we wage war“. The Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was hit by a cruise missile in an attempt to “decapitate” the Yugoslavian “regime“. (3)
The fact that NATO warfare doctrine for establishing the Pax Americana would be based on using the guise of human rights, of constructing false reports of massacres, or even committing massacres that are blamed on the targeted nations government and of political show trials at the ICC became obvious with the charade of a trial against former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic. Since his trial threatened to turn into a public relations disaster for NATO, of course, President Milosevic conveniently died while in captivity in The Hague, and after vain Russian protests against his treatment and trial.
Subsequently to the successful “Balkanization” of Yugoslavia, NATO is now occupying Kosovo, where it facilitated the establishment of a de-facto, according to international law highly questionable new state. Regular Russian protests but even more regular human rights abuses and violence against the civilian Serb population in Kosovo, like the issuing of shoot-to-kill orders against civilian protesters, (4 ) or the harassment of humanitarian aid convoys (5 ) are falling on deaf ears in NATO member states. Complicit or should we say co-opted Western Main Stream Media cover it up. After all, when the Pentagon invests millions in the BBC and other strategic media, one must expect results for the money. All is neatly following the D.o.D´s Information Operations Road-map from 2003. (6). The fact that absolute image and media control is part of NATO doctrine will be clarified more detailed below.
A War of Terror – Afghanistan, US/NATO Presence at all Russian and Chinese Borders in the Greater Middle East.
A classical NATO strategy is to use mercenary armies ad hoc as respectively allied, as enemy or both. The then Bin Laden led Al-Qaeda was the ally in the war on the USSR in Afghanistan, in fact, so he claims, it was a creation of Zbigniev Brzezinski. The same Al-Qaeda was a useful ally in the war on Yugoslavia, later on Serbia and Serbians in Bosnia as well as Kosovo. 2001 and post the attacks on US targets on 11 September 2001, Al Qaeda became the enemy. The enemy that facilitated a US/NATO invasion of Afghanistan. While the US and NATO already were present in most of the former Soviet Republics along the Chinese and Russian borders in the Wider Middle East, it´s presence in Afghanistan and de facto in Pakistan literally encircled one of Russia´s and China´s most important regional allies, Iran. The encirclement became almost complete after the war on Iraq.
A decade-long diplomatic war of attrition against Iran, accompanied by sanctions and Israeli threats of Mad Max Military Intervention has culminated in what can only be described as diplomatic stalemate. After the recent nuclear talks, the next round is due to be held in Moscow soon. The talks will be held within a climate where all present will know that all that so far has prevented a NATO attack on Iran is that the NATO equation about the prior destabilization of Syria and Lebanon has become one year delayed. A decision to wage the war on Syria, Lebanon and Iran has long been made, and is being systematically implemented. (7 )
Why the War on Iraq matters today.
Rather than analyzing the situation pertaining Syria isolated, it should by now have become evident that it is necessary to analyze the post-soviet geo-political developments as one constantly evolving crisis with its current epicenter being Syria. The relevance of Iraq today is not so much the fact that NATO and allies are capable of committing war-crimes with impunity, murdering millions of Iraqi citizens. Creating a radiation public health disaster of unprecedented scale that can be described as genocidal. The most important factors to be taken into account with the current or acute status of the developing crisis are:
US perception of Arab States as not being covered by the provisions of the Treaty of Westphalia. Arab states, argues Henry Kissinger in an article (8) that was deconstructed by an article of this author (9 ), that Muslim Middle Eastern nations do not enjoy the protection under the principles of the Treaty of Westphalia which prohibits the interference into other nations internal affairs. This, Kissinger argues, is valid because only three of the Middle Eastern Muslim nations, Iran, Egypt and Turkey, have a historical existence. The others, so Kissinger argues, are more or less arbitrary creations of colonial powers. Kissinger´s argument is historically invalid, it also contradicts his stance with respect to Israel, but more importantly, it is symptomatic for and illustrates the arrogance, disrespect and masters modo-colonialist attitude and outlook of the United States and NATO on foreign affairs. ( Modo-Colonialism, Contemporary Colonialism. Edt.)
US Negotiation Strategy and Sanctions, A Precursor for Disaster.
Prior to the onset of the “kinetic” war on Iraq it has been made subject to devastating and murderous sanctions based on purported “Weapons of Mass Destruction” which of course were never found. Standard US-negotiation strategy is that purported negotiations are consequently accompanied by UN-fulfillable demands such as the demand to provide evidence that one does not have these or those weapons or other demands to provide “negative evidence” without clearly stating under what precise conditions sanctions will be lifted. These negotiations are usually a precursor for military action being taken. The fact that the USA and NATO today are making use of precisely the same strategy on Iran is most likely a precursor of military action against Iran. The details are described in the article “Iran Nuclear talks: Explosive Issues Amidst Burning Middle East”. ( 10)
Overt Murder of Heads of State. Iraq also matters today because even though it was not the first incident, it was this centuries and the post-cold-war era´s first overt murder of a sovereign nations head of state, and as we will see, it has created precedence for further murders of heads of state. A show trial and an execution by hanging that was made into a public execution because of a video that “accidentally was taken and released”, was televised world wide. The message was “ either you are with us, or we become the terrorists that kill you“. A head of state is murdered with utter and absolute impunity. This practice would later, in 2011, be used against Muammar Ghadafi, although in a slightly different variant. Today Pentagon and NATO war planners speak of the possible decapitation of the Syrian government. The difference today is that Syria has the support of Russia, so a decapitation or military action would have potentially catastrophic consequences, which will be looked at below.
Weapons of Mass Destruction. Iraq also matters today because it provides precedence for a war that is based on lies pertaining weapons of mass destruction. The same strategy has been attempted with respect to Syria. So far it has not been successful but the attempt was made. The campaign about purported human rights violations, war crimes, and other purported outrages by the Syrian government however, has been extremely successful. The success of this strategy, which is designed for creating a pretext for invasion on the grounds of “the responsibility to protect” is mainly based on the complicity of mass media as well as systematic war crimes and massacres committed by NATO/GCC and allied forces, being blamed on the Syrian Government.
Libya and The 25th NATO Summit in Chicago – The New NATO Doctrine and the Threat to Global Security. During Putin´s visit to Copenhagen, the outrage of the then Russian P.M. Putin over the NATO/GCC alliance´s criminal abuse of UNSC Resolution 1973-2011 on Libya (11) was palpable, when Putin met former Danish P.M. Lars Løkke Rasmussen in Copenhagen.
The fact that Putin has a KGB background and that he must have been aware of the fact that Lars Løkke Rasmussen during the 80s strongly supported the Taliban and most likely Al Qaeda in Afghanistan has probably contributed to that outrage. (12 ) As detailed in an article by the author about the 25Th NATO Summit in Chicago ( 13 ) , however, NATO did not only declare that it´s missile shield was brought on-line. What NATO declared during the Chicago Summit, and which was further manifested in an article by Daalder and Stavridis, (14 ) was that Libya-Style interventions now had officially become part of NATO´s new doctrine.
In their article Foreign Affairs, Daalder and Stavridis are calling the intervention in Libya a model intervention for future interventions.(ibid.) In other words, the use of terrorists and mercenary forces, the murder of a head of state are a teachable moment. They are calling the bombing of civilian infrastructure, the destruction of the man made river project, the use of cluster bombs in densely populated areas in Brega (15 ) and the use of fuel air bombs against civilians in Bani Walid, the bombing of civilians in Sirte including the bombing of the hospital, which according to an eyewitness known to the author caused over one thousand casualties in two days for “ a successful air-campaign of unprecedented precision“.
NATO, including Daalder and Stavridis have the audacity of calling the massacres on tens of thousands of Black African Migrant Workers, and tens of thousands of Black Libyans, (16) the slaughter of over 10.000 Tawergha, the utter wiping out of the city from existence and the internal displacement of the survivors,(17) as “teachable moment and model for future interventions”.
What NATO´s “Teachable Moment” teaches the World. The “teachable” part of NATO´s audacity is that Russia, China, Syria, Iran, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the DPR Korea, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and every other nation worldwide who oppose NATO´s ambition for Global Full Spectrum Dominance is, that NATO´s Operation Unified Protector in Libya has taught the world that NATO stops at nothing. NATO revealed that it creates the humanitarian crisis it needs to plead at the UNSC for intervention under the pretext of the “responsibility to protect“. It abuses the UNSC when it can get away with it. It cooperates with mercenaries including Al Qaeda, Muslim Brothers, CIA Imported Taliban Fighters, like the 1.500 fighters from Mazar e-Sharif which the CIA flow in to Libya after the Libyan military had inflicted heavy losses on NATO´s rak tag rebels. (18).
NATO shies no massacres, no genocide, respects no law, provides itself and its political and military leadership impunity while conducting fraudulent show trials at the ICC, like the trial against the purported murderers of Rafiq Hariri, and that even though a secretly recorded audiotape, published on nsnbc clearly proves that Saad Hariri is buying witnesses. But then, Saad Hariri also sponsors the “Free Syrian Army, so such slight mistakes are covered up at the ICC. (19) That´s what friends are for.
NATO does not shy from provoking a thermo-nuclear war on Iran and Russia. A thermo-nuclear war in which NATO assumes, that its missile defense against Iran, which is directed against Russia, provides them a first strike capability. A capability that they assume, will prevent an organized, full scale retaliation from Russia. In other words, NATO also does not shy from making the sacrifice of millions of NATO member states citizens whom they are claiming to protect. (20) The fact that the USA is fully capable at murdering millions of innocent civilians in unprotected cities in a nuclear holocaust has been demonstrated sufficiently in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Finally, when analyzing Libya, it is necessary to understand that the war on Libya was ultimately directed against Russia and China (21), that Russia and China already on 24 October 2011 saw it incumbent to put their armed forces on highest alert, (22 ) and that Russia has clearly drawn a line in the Syrian Sand already in September 2011, when it became evident that the Syrian unrests were products of a blatant and relentless NATO Unconventional War. An attempted subversion whose managers would not want to achieve less than the absolute destabilization of Syria for decades and regime change in a country that is one of the most long standing Russian allies and the sole Russian ally that provides Russia a base in the Mediterranean.(23 )
It became evident that Russia neither would allow, nor could afford another Yugoslavia-Style loss of a long standing and close ally and strategic partner. Considerations about Russia´s security forced Russia to draw a sharp line. Clearly, Russia can not rely on further promises and assurances by NATO. NATO has been trying to make the best possible use of this Russian position. It is a position where Russia is is under extreme political and strategic pressure and cornered. The question is, when will the peaceful bear have to lash out, not to be munched up by the terriers. After the disaster of the Jeltsin and the ambivalence and placidity of the Medvedjev Presidency, it has only just begun being able to reassert it´s geo-political position. (24)
Down to the Dirty Details before Analyzing the Latest Evolution of the Crisis and Proposing Realistic and Peaceful Solutions.
In fact, the world has not been as close to the onset of a high intensity stage of the ongoing World War III, including the risk of the use of thermo-nuclear weapons since the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is therefore, that it is absolutely necessary to have a critical look at the details. It is the “Dirty Details” that facilitate a comprehensive understanding of scope of the audacity and severity of the situation. It is also by acquiring a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the “Dirty Details” that it is possible to develop realistic proposals of solutions that could defuse the situation and hopefully create the basis for realistic, peaceful solutions.
UN – Co-Opted by NATO. UN-FAIR-UN-JUST-UN-SPEAKABLE-UN-DENIABLE-UN-FORGIVABLE-UN-DONE.
With the ratification of the UN/NATO Joint Declaration from 2008 (25), which was kept secret and from public scrutiny as long as possible, the United Nations became a de facto instrument of US-Foreign Policy. Simultaneously NATO became the de facto leading military force of the United Nations. Based on the argument that NATO is uniquely able to rapidly deploy forces, globally, within a joint command structure and joint weapons systems down to the caliber and so forth, NATO has been declared as the World Police Force. No other major power of global reach, like China or Russia, so NATO states, have the same unique capabilities to rapidly establish international forces at “trouble spots“. The reality behind this euphemistic sales pitch is, that NATO creates a humanitarian crisis in Syria, pushes for intervention on the grounds of the United Nations responsibility to protect, and naturally NATO is the sole power that has the unique capability to conquer the world in precisely that manner. NATO´s problem today is, that Russia and China are not buying the sales pitch any more. Latest since Libya that Little Dirty Trick has become too obvious.The result is that the UN-Security Council has utterly lost it´s functionality.Moreover, the United Nations has utterly lost it´s credibility as honest broker and international guardian of peace.
NATO Special Forces / Al Qaeda / Muslim Brotherhood – Joint Command Structure and Logistics.
Late August 2011 a high-ranking officer with the U.S. Special Forces at Ft.Bragg, North Carolina turned whistle-blower. The officer reported to the author, that US Special forces have been actively preparing for and actively begun implementing a war on Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and ultimately Russia.(26) The officer also reported and provided indisputable evidence for the author that US Special Forces were training mercenaries that belong to Al Qaeda associated forces, Muslim Brotherhood, and others. Special Forces took active part in combat in Syria, had a joint command and logistics structure with the terrorists, and were based in NATO bases in Turkey. Furthermore the officer provided a copy of a Special Forces Training Circular, TC 18-01, which is being used to train foreign fighters in systematically bringing about the subversion of Syria (or any other targeted nation) in a structured and coordinated manner, together with, supported and supervised by, and with the active participation of US Special Forces, agents of the D.I.A., NATO Intelligence, as well as non-military organizations such as the National Council of Syria, Human Rights Organizations and so forth.
The Training Circular TC 18-01 is published in its entirety on nsnbc. Reading it reveals the military logic behind what, which otherwise may seem like a chaotic situation in Syria. (27) Only months after the author published the statement of the S.F. whistle-blower, a senior Whitehall official made it public, that British, Turkish, and as he said “probably also US” special forces were operating in Syria. (28) At that time however, the “revelation” was already part of a careful preparation of Western populations to accept that the illegal deployment of Special Forces, a war crime, had to be committed in the name of human rights and democracy.
Al Qaeda – State Sponsored Terrorism NATO´s and the GCC´s Weapon of Choice.The Director of the Canadian Center for Research on Globalization (29), professor Michel Chossudovsky, compares the NATO/GCC-Strategy that is being used against Iraq, and which is now used against Syria with the Reagan Administrations El-Salvador Death Squads strategy. (30) In an earlier article the author of this article compared the strategy used against Syria with a “Modified Chechnyan Model“. (31)As it transpired, both comparisons are quite correct and should once and for all have discredited the narrative about a genuine political opposition that took up arms in Syria, had it not be for a criminally complicit and co-opted Western Media. Media complicity will be looked upon below.
Saudi Arabia´s Omar Brigade. In September 2011 Russian and Syrian Intelligence Services reported that they had analyzed what they called “Internet Chatter” that strongly indicated that the Saudi Arabia based Al Qaeda unit Omar Brigade (32) which is under the command of the Saudi Arabian Minister of the Interior and widely recognized as Al Qaeda´s assassination and bomb expert brigade, had been deployed from Saudi Arabia to Syria. (ibid.) Saudi Arabia is, together with Qatar, consequently channeling vast amounts of money as well a weapons to it´s Al Qaeda brigades in Syria. (33) Al Qaeda brigades which of course are fighting under the euphemistic name “Free Syrian Army” . At other times, when opportune with respect to the Media and Diplomatic War they are off course called Al Qaeda. More precisely that is, when it is opportune to argue that the security of the population of Syria is so endangered by “terrorism” that a “UN/NATO” intervention is warranted for.
The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, (LIFG). The Al Qaeda brigade “The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, LIFG” under the command of Abdelhakim Belhadj is fighting with at least 18.000 fighters in Syria under the name of “Free Syrian Army“. The 18.000 Al Qaeda fighters under the command of Belhadj are mainly deployed in the Jordanian – Syrian border region. (34)
The LIFG has been a major asset in the war on Libya and has since changed its name to “Tripoli Military Council“. Its commander, Abdelhakim Belhadj is a veteran NATO and MI6 double agent. His register of crimes published in an article by the author from 2011 (35) could today be vastly extended. The former Spanish P.M. Aznar and Spanish intelligence services accuse him of having masterminded the Madrid Train Bombings that killed numerous commuters, and which resulted in Spain´s military contribution to NATO´s “war on terror” in Afghanistan. The homicidal variant of the Hegelian Dialectics of Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis. Create a Problem, that elicits a predictable Reaction, and offer a predesignated Solution.
Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood – The Turkey/NATO/Al-Qaeda/Hamas/Mossad Joint Venture.
Already August 2011 it was evident that Turkey was harboring, training, arming and financing armed brigades of the Muslim Brotherhood. Special Facilities were established at Turkish NATO bases. US Special Forces participated, supervised, took part in armed transgressions against Syria. (36) According to the US Special Forces Officer referred to earlier in this article, the kidnapping of the Attorney General of Hama, Adnan Bakkur, where helicopter gunships were used by the kidnappers, was supported by US Special Forces. (37) A complicit or co-opted Al Jazeera propagandized Arab and Western populations with a false defection story and a video of Adnan Bakkur that visibly was recorded under duress. (ibid.)
According to a well placed Palestinian Intelligence Source in Turkey, the war on Syria and the co-operation between NATO, Turkey in particular, Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Israeli Intelligence Service Mossad have been operational as far back as 2010. According to the intelligence source, the killing of nine Turkish citizens on board the Turkish registered Gaza Freedom Flotilla vessel Mavi Marmara was such a joint operation.The information was published in an article written by Martin Iqbal. (38) Both the Commander of the LIFG, a.k.a. Tripoli Military Council, a.k.a. Free Syrian Army, Abdelhakim Belhadj and his second in command Harati were on board the Mavi Marmara to point out the targeted Turkish Muslim Brothers to the Israeli Forces assassins.
The operation had several utilities. To assassinate influential members of the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood who were opposed to a war on Syria. To boost the waining public support for Turkish P.M. R. Tayyip Erdogan due to the fact that he could publicly blast Israel. The increased public support enabled him to fire some of the most secular Generals of the Turkish High Command.(ibid.)
Hamas, which has it´s historical roots in prominent Muslim Brotherhood families has secretly re-aligned itself with the International, Qatari led, MI6 and BND infiltrated Muslim Brotherhood and away from it´s alliance with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah. The price for Hamas U-Turn and betrayal ? The promise of a “leading role in a Palestinian Springafter the expected fall of the Syrian Government.” One day after the author of this article published this information, Hamas urgently, and opposite to previous promises of solidarity with the Syrian Government, vacated it´s Damascus office.(39)
The Planned War on Lebanon. The Lebanese Jamaa Al Islamiya has made a U-Turn comparable to that of Hamas too. Their U-Turn is one of the reasons for, why the Syrian Conflict could so easily spill over into Lebanon as planned by NATO. Jamaa Al Islamiya realigned itself with the International, Qatar based, NATO allied wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and away from it´s alliance with Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.(40) The Qatari, Saudi and NATO plan is most likely to isolate Hezbollah politically and militarily and prepare a new 70th-80th style Lebanese Civil War that is meant to last decades. Other main Lebanese facilitators of the war on Syria and the planned Lebanese civil war are the Saudi – Lebanese Saad Hariri and his Future Movement, as well as the Leader of the Lebanese Druze community and Chairman of the Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblatt. Their involvement in financing and arming the Syrian Insurgency has been documented in a previous article. That includes Jumblatt´s delivery of Israeli weapons via Raphael Industries to the “Free Syrian Army“.(41)
Functions of a Long Planned Regional War and War on Russia and China. It would be possible to continue for hours, listing various different factors that document, that the “Arab Spring” is a long planned, meticulously and relentlessly executed war plan with the following objectives:
To destabilize Syria and Lebanon and to bring about long lasting civil wars that significantly weaken Iran in preparation of an attack on Iran.
To engage Russia in a Middle Eastern Conflict, counting on one of three possibly attainable objectives. These objectives are strategically interchangeable and may be achieved simultaneously. All of them however, aim at engaging Russia directly or indirectly in a regional conflict with global geo-political consequences.
To contain Russian involvement in the Middle Eastern theater due to the threat of NATO´s plausible first strike capability against Russia, thus forcing Russia to surrender it´s strategic allies to NATO and the GCC. Preventing Russia from direct engagement while the NATO,GCC, Israel Coalition destabilizes and brings about regime change in Syria, Lebanon and Iran.
Weakening Russia, and preparing a long, protracted, Chechnya style war of attrition against Russia via a destabilized Iran and Syria. A continued and intensified attempt to destabilize Russia by proxy in Georgia and other former Soviet Republics like Moldavia. Color revolutions in Belarus and other allied nations with the aim to bring about “regime change” in Russia. Denying Russia access to the Mediterranean by destabilizing Syria.
Alternatively to draw Russia into a long, protracted proxy war in Syria, Iran and Lebanon with an Afghanistan like defeat of Russian forces, in preparation of a direct engagement of Russia via Georgia, Azerbaijan, and the region in general.
All of the objectives are pursued with the possibility of initiating what NATO perceives as a plausible nuclear first strike capability against Russia to contain Russian interference into NATO´s Middle Eastern Conquest. The risk of a thermo-nuclear war on Russia is perceived as a calculable risk and plausible, viable possibility, if not as a goal in an on itself.
Considering the recent decades geo-political developments, the coagulation of loose alliances like the BRICS, SCC and ALBA into more solid blocks that counter Western Ambitions of Global Full Spectrum Dominance, a final war against China becomes plausible only, after a military and political defeat of Russia.
Back to the Present. The Importance of Proper Parliamentary Briefings. Based on this background information it becomes possible to begin to comprehend the scope of what otherwise could be perceived as isolated and easily manageable incidents, namely a plausible civil war in Syria and Lebanon, and a plausible protracted war of sanctions and attrition against Iran on nuclear issues, with the perspective of a plausible, limited military strike against Iran by either Israel and/or the NATO/GCC alliance.
Having spoken to numerous European members of parliaments in different European Countries over the course of the last week, it is generally this perception of the situation, as isolated, manageable affairs that is most prevalent.
This mis-perception and mis-evaluation of the crisis is mainly based on the fact that most members of parliaments, in many cases even those who are members of foreign policy committees, either receive their information via co-opted and complicit Main Stream Media, or that they are receiving their information and briefings from national Intelligence Agencies who often use and analyze the same media as source of information. Another aspect is, that many Western Intelligence Services are deeply involved in the ongoing war, and that the information that is passed on to members of parliament is highly filtered.
Turning-Point Al-Houla. Since the appalling massacre in Al-Houla that would have created nation-wide cries of outrage in most Western countries had the truth been truthfully reported in Western Media, the situation in Syria and the evolution of the crisis overall has changed significantly. Sadly the BBC, to mention just one example, refused to take the results of the preliminary investigation into the massacre into account, blamed the Syrian Military, and to add outrage to audacity, published old images from Iraq, claiming the bodies in the images were victims of the Syrian Army. (42)
The Al-Houla Massacre prompted the author to write the article From Sabra and Shatila to Homs and Damascus (43) which is recommended for understanding the scope of the inhumane audacity and appalling nature of the humanitarian situation in Syria.
After having failed to pressure Russia and China into accepting a Libya-Style NATO led military intervention in Syria, it is transpiring clearly, that NATO will no longer hesitate to intervene militarily in Syria and Iran, regardless of a Russian or Chinese veto at the UNSC. A recent article by the author explains the situation. (44)
As previously detailed, however, Russia can not allow itself another Yugoslavia, Serbia Style defeat in Syria or Iran, without seriously and in fact terminally endangering its own security. Emphasis should be put on understanding the fact that a defeat in Syria and Iran “terminally” endangers Russian security. That said and understood, it must transpire with all clarity and in its fullest consequence that Russia has no other option than applying the least possible necessary “forward defense“, preemptive military strikes included if necessary or perceived necessary.
The signals from Russia are not ambivalent and it can not be taken lightly when Vladimir Putin states that a continued violation of international law by NATO and the GCC threatens to unleash a global conflict. The situation has changed too much since his speech at the International Security Conference in Munich 2007 (ibid.) to expect that Russia will continue behave like a hedgehog, tugging in and making itself as small as possible to protect itself for another five or ten years.
Russian Demands for Peace and Stability backed by Military Preparedness. While Russia is forced into a position where it has to assert that it can and will defend itself and its allies when it has to, its demands are as a matter of fact that of moderation and peace, as well as human rights and a continuation of reforms. Before analyzing the Russian proposals however, it is absolutely necessary to understand that a NATO/GCC led war with catastrophic consequences is in the final stages of preparation, and that Russia is preparing to counter such moves. In fact, it is not alarmist to state that the evolving dynamics of the crisis do not render much time before the dynamics in and on themselves make a peaceful resolution impossible. This must be understood with all possible clarity.
Recent Evolution of the Crisis Towards NATO/GCC Intervention in Spite of VETO at UNSC. The aggravation of the crisis is recognizable on the fact that the massacre in Al Houla has been followed by new massacres that the massacres and violence is predominantly initiated and conducted by the “Free Syrian Army” with the intention to create a civil war based on ethnic, religious, and political grounds. The tactic of scourged earth and massacres is used where ever the “Free Syrian Army” has to retreat.
A massive media war has been carefully planned. It´s final stages are expected to be implemented any time of NATO´s convenience. The objective is to bring about a civil war based on political, ethnic and religious grounds, to create confusion, convince the people of Syria that the Government has fled, that massive massacres are being committed by the Syrian Military. NATO pland a massive disinformation campaign to aggravate the crisis in order to chieve the objective to justify NATO military intervention among NATO and GCC member states populations. (45) The genesis of the campaign was the Arab League´s initiative to make Nilesat and Arabsat cease to carry Syrian TV and Radio signals. (46)
For the first time since the onset of the post-cold war era, Russia has demanded that the Collective Security Treaty Organization, CSTO, (47) is preparing it´s forces for a deployment of Blue Barret Troops. It is a sign that Russia is ready and capable of taking on international responsibilities. The posture is also a sign of Russian opposition to NATO´s self-proclaimed special status at the UN, and it is a sign that Russia is ready to oppose a Western military intervention. Russia´s readiness to protect the line it has drawn, and the fact that Russia meant it seriously when it stated that NATO is driving the world towards a nuclear war was underlined by the recent firing of a Bulava missile from a submarine in the Mediterranean. (ibid.)
A 24 hours manned operations room of the Russian Military forces at the Caspian Sea is established to closely monitor the military situation at the Caspian Sea and the Gulf. Navy, Air Force, Infantry and Armored Forces are battle ready. The Russian Mediterranean Navy base in Tartus, Syria is is on heightened alert. Three Russian brigades, including Speznaz, Special Forces and Airborne Divisions are on alert and ready for rapid deployment. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov stated that an unauthorized military intervention against Syria will warrant a Russian response. Iran made it clear that a military intervention in Syria will warrant an Iranian response. Hezbollah is somewhat and surprisingly silent but will have to respond too.
Syrian Reforms and Russian Initiatives towards Peace. First of al it is necessary to emphasize that the Syrian Government has, in spite of the relentless war that is waged against Syria, managed to implement reforms that by far exceed any of the reforms it´s Arab neighbors would badly need.It is by far the most democratic Arab nation.
In spite of the crisis, the emergency laws were lifted. The emergency laws were implemented subsequent to the 1973 war with Israel, and which among other had been maintained because Syria de facto is still in a state of war with Israel, because Israel still occupies the Golan Highs, illegally, and because Syria has been under a constant threat of Israeli insurgencies for decades.
Syria has held a referendum about a new constitution. In spite of the ongoing violence, over 54 % of took part in a referendum, and 89% voted in favor of the new constitution. (48) The constitution is by far the most democratic among all Middle Eastern nations.(49)
Four new political parties have been registered. Parliamentary elections have been held. The message of the people of Syria and the message of the true Syrian opposition parties is clear. Foreign terrorists, foreign Special Forces, foreign mercenaries, get out of Syria and let us continue our reforms. Syria is by far the most democratic, the most liberal of all Arab nations, the one that gives the greatest protection to minorities, secures gender equality, and participatory democracy – much in contrast to the GCC states who are preaching democracy and human rights while beheading their women for sorcery.(and this is not a joke)
Russian Suggestions are Suggestions Towards a Peaceful Settlement of the Dispute. Russian suggestions include that NATO and GCC member states immediately halt their illegal deployment of Special Forces, and an immediate cessation of the arming, financing and other support of foreign and domestic terrorist organizations in Syria. In other words, that NATO and the GCC adheres to international law.As clearly demonstrated above, the violence in Syria will cease when the ongoing and illegal foreign intervention is discontinued. A peaceful solution is not possible while waging war.
Russia suggests that the fraudulent “Friends of Syria” group is discontinued. The group is demonstratively a creation designed with the intent to support the illegal insurgency with political, military and other material support. A peaceful solution is not possible while waging war. Russia suggests that all parties adhere to the Six Point Plan negotiated by Kofi Annan, and that the foreign insurgency ceases to systematically disrupt any attempts of the Syrian Government and Military to adhere to the plan.Russia suggests that the “Friends of Syria” group is substituted by an international ad hoc Contact Group.
In so many words – It Is Either Peace or War. In so many words, what both President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, as well as the Syrian Government and all genuine Syrian Political Parties suggest is, that NATO/GCC Coalition withdraws its bloodhounds and weasels, its Belhadj and any other of their professional terrorists and mercenaries. Based on a de-escalation of the conflict it would become evident that the “crisis” is not endemic to Syria but that it has been created by foreign elements and influence. A de-escalation could be monitored by an international Contact Group. Syria could in fact legitimately appeal to Russia for the deployment of Blue Helmets deployed by Russia and/or the CSTO.
A de-escalation, requires nothing but a NATO and a GCC that adheres to international law. The alternative is an escalation of the conflict, which is all to obviously planned, but which consequences should make any Western member of Parliament, every citizen, every military officer stand up and say “enough already“.
The World does not need a World war Three, and it is time to stop it´s evolution.
Briefings. The article is written within the context of parliamentary briefings. Parliamentary Groups, Members of Parliament, Peace Movements, Initiatives world wide are welcome to contact the authos for individual or group briefings on the situation in the Middle East by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org
From St. Ives to Inverness; from the Isle of Man and stretching across the City of London; and even in places like Tristan da Cunha, a UK Overseas Territory and the most remote inhabited island chain on the planet, this has been a long weekend of celebrations. It started officially on Saturday (and even with the characteristically gloomy British weather) the streets of all cities have been aglow with images of the Union Jack. It has been a long weekend awash with celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond jubilee.
As I sat watching the incessant dripping of the rain through my window, I could not help but wonder if an average African born 60 years ago will have any cause for celebration – that is if they were fortunate to see their 60th anniversary. As if to lend credence to my thoughts, the double tragedy in Africa’s most populated country on a day so aptly tagged ‘Black Sunday’ seemed to have been the one thing I needed to realise the futility of any struggle to make meaning of life – especially as an African.
I was forced to take a look at what Africa was in 1952 and what did I see? I saw US-educated Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who had been elected prime minister of the Gold Coast (the British Colony that later becomes Ghana). That seemed to be the beginning of a new era for a continent that had not known any form of freedom for centuries since it was enslaved and colonised. There was hope for the continent as continental Africans who were at that time studying in America and Europe such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Leopold S. Senghor of Senegal Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafami Awolowo of Nigeria were all returning to mother Africa, preaching and applying their political ideology for African nationalism and Pan-Africanism. Their political philosophy which assumed the new role of pedagogy for promoting internal liberation.
There were beacons of hope across the continent 10 years later, by 1962, when a majority of the continent gained independence. But unlike the about 4200 beacons of the Diamond Jubilee which as they were lit, had three generations of Royalty watching, with smiles on their faces, I wonder if anyone can look back and smile at any of the beacons of hope that were lit in Africa in the early 1960s.
Let me look at a few:
The first is Leopold Sedar Senghor. According to Senghor the value of African socialism was founded on the African understanding of family based on philosophical intuition through the concept of Negritude: “The family in Africa is the clan and not as in Europe ‘mum, dad and the baby’ it is not the household but ‘the sum total of all persons, living and dead, who acknowledge a common ancestor.’ As we know, the ancestral lineage dates back to God”.
Senghor saw a common factor of Africanity as consisting in the state of being ‘black’, ‘negritude’, ‘negroness’. Hence the Afro-Negro worldview could be sustained by an intuitive consciousness that opens itself up in communal embrace to the rest of the world culture. African culture was therefore, a symbiosis of different elements, in a symbiotic encounter, in which association was free and beneficial to all. Senghor felt that Negritude could open up a harmonious basis for integration of black and white values with a view of bringing into being a new African personality which necessarily contributes to the civilization of values. In this light negritude was seen as a cultural heritage of the Negros and an embodiment of cultural, economic, political and social values of the Black people.
It is against this backdrop that negritude was seen as being not just a mere theoretical speculation or simply a philosophy of being but also a philosophy of praxis aimed at liberation. Its aims and objectives were considered the same as those pursued by all African nationalists following independence, namely, the truth of their “being” and “culture” as well as the full mastery of their environment. Negritude was nothing more than the Black man’s attempt to regain what Jean-Paul Sartre calls an ‘existential integrity” on the original purity of one’s existence.
60 years on: the African still lives on an existential mirage. The lines between life and death are blurred. People go to church and do not return. Others board flights or cars but never reach their destination. Children are born only for them to witness the agony of starvation, deprivation and die of curable diseases before their first birthday. Maybe the problem was Negritude – either hoping too much or too little!
Julius Kambarage Nyerere, like Senghor saw in African socialism, the only
veritable tool that could affect the political and economic liberation of Africa. Like Senghor, Nyerere felt that “the foundation and objective of African socialism is the extended family.” The familyhood depicted by Ujamaa, therefore, went beyond the basic family nucleus; beyond the tribe, the community, the nation. It must include the entire human race. It x-rayed the traditional life of the African people where the sense of brotherhood was strong: where “society is so organized that it cares about the individual”. In short Ujamaa socialism was said to be an attitude of mind needed to ensure that people care for each other’s welfare. In Nyerere’s conceptual schemes, therefore, the solution to the African predicament and the sure road to freedom, laid simply in the adoption of African socialism which was antithetical to capitalism. Nyerere’s Ujamaa was clearly a theory that was aimed at transforming independent Africa.
60 years on: capitalism reigns supreme in Africa. Individualism is manifested in the grabbing attitude of politicians who think only of making quick gains at the expense of the masses. Even China which is communist at home is capitalist in Africa. May be there should have been a middle way!
This was sought by Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik) whose major political thought centre around the idea of the regeneration of Africa in socio-political life and what he termed “neo-welfarism”. The idea of the regeneration of Africa represents a call to a New Africa. Beyond the general tendencies prevalent in his time, to favour and refine socialist teachings and to reject capitalist principles, Zik was among the few thinkers who made frantic efforts in the search of a middle way between socialism and capitalism in his later years. Finding the major political systems – capitalism, socialism, welfarism – wanting, Zik, feeling that since none of them is totally bad, there was the need for the harmonization of these systems by combining what he believes to be the good elements in each of them. These results in what he called “neo-welfarism” which is “an economic system which blends the essential elements of Capitalism, Socialism and Welfarism in a socio-economic matrix, influenced by indigenous African mores, to enable the state and the private sector to own and control the means of production, distribution and exchange, whilst simultaneously enabling the state to assume responsibility for the social services, in order to benefit the citizens according to their needs and officially specified minimum standard, without prejudice to participation in any aspect of the social services by voluntary agencies.” The philosophical basis for neo-welfarism is eclecticism and pragmatism.
Unfortunately, pragmatism and eclecticism have been painstakingly removed from Nigerian political dictionaries and hence the via media has no place anymore. The fuel subsidy crisis was just one of many examples of where socialism and welfarism have been binned in favour of resolute capitalism. This should not have been surprising because Nkrumah had prophesied about them.
One of the most systematic and speculative of the freedom movement of post-
colonial Africa was the theory of liberation of Kwame Nkrumah, which he expounded in his book Towards Colonial Freedom, written in 1947 and published in 1962. Nkrumah spoke of liberation as being mainly from colonialism, which to him was “…White man’s burden which rest heavily upon the shoulders of the so-called “backward” people who have been subjugated, humiliated, robbed and degraded to the level of cattle.” .Nkrumah saw in the policies of the colonial masters a lot of hypocrisy. In their crafty nature, they masked their real inhumane nature and evil intentions so well that it was very difficult for the people to notice. “ the attitude of Britain, France, Spain, Italy and other colonial powers towards what they call “participation” by colonial people in colonial government and public affairs are half-way measures to keep them complacent and to throttle their aspiration for complete independence”.
In the light of this, Nkrumah saw the need to present a model theory for the liberation of Africa. He was partly motivated by the hope that the Socialist movement in the world at the time would overtake the capitalist – imperialism that exploited Africa.
Nkrumah, and other Africans having deciphered the distortions and platitude of European colonialism saw the importance of knowledge in the African crusade of decolonization against European colonialism, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the African liberation and development. Knowledge was necessary for power and for action. Nkrumah further wrote that
… there are vast numbers of ordinary Africans, who animated by a lively national consciousness, sort knowledge as an instrument of national emancipation and integrity. This is not to say that these Africans overlooked the purely cultural value of their studies. But in order that their cultural acquisition should be valuable, they needed to be capable of appreciating it as free men.
There was a pressing need for Africans to get engaged in the de-colonial campaign as free historical beings, since, “the main purpose of the organization is to bring about a final death of colonialism and the discountenance of foreign imperialist domination”.. This is because it was glaring that “outside interference does not help to develop their country, for it impedes and stifles and crushes not only economic progress, but the spirit and indigenous enterprise of the peoples themselves.
60 years on: Outside interference has never been far from Africa. Its legacies are clear for all to see. Africa produces no guns but records the highest number of deaths by guns. The DRC, Somalia and Libya are living examples of foreign imperialist domination. The IMF and the World Bank have only succeeded in impeding and stifling economic progress with proposals that never seem to work but are always imposed on African governments.
60 years on after Nkrumah won the first election in Africa as the PM of the Gold Coast, we are apt to wonder if it will be better if Africa could simple forget all the years of civil wars, genocides, apartheid, famine and diseases. Maybe we can start anew! But should this option be considered, Africa will have WASTED A GENERATION!
 Senghor; Poetry and Prose (Selected and trans by Reed and C. Wake) (London: Oxford University Press, !965), p. 43
 Nyerere: Ujamaa: Essays On Socialism (Dar-es Salaam :Oxford University Press 1968) p. 2
As I watched it on the news, I could hear whistles and shouts of “shame on you” as tents were thrown in to rubbish trucks. This happened when Occupy London Stock Exchange activists were evicted from outside St Paul’s Church in London after many months of occupation by people protesting the excesses of capitalism. This was not the first eviction and obviously not the first time that a government had crushed the voice of the oppressed – of course we heard stories of the Occupy Wall Street, the Occupy Oakland and Occupy Nigeria at the beginning of the year and many more sweeping across the globe, which have mainly dwindled into oblivion. What made this stand out in my mind was a question one of the protesters held high at the beginning of the camping at St. Paul’s – “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?”
In my view, which I am sure, may be nuanced or even crass, all these people had not simply been after the downfall of capitalism and neoliberalism, rather, I saw their actions as acts of prayer – calling on those whom God had put in authority to do some introspection and change their attitude towards the less privileged. I therefore did not see these protests as simply one against capitalism or neoliberalism, but one that was aimed at eliciting a response from all people of God worldwide.
At this stage, I am sure you will be wondering exactly what I mean by prayer. My view is not much different from yours.
PRAYER: MY UNDERSTANDING
I understand prayer to be the practice of invoking the presence of God. It is that place where pride is abandoned, hope is lifted, and supplication is made. Prayer is that place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God. Prayer is that needful practice of the Christian or the Moslem. Prayer is that exercise of faith and hope. Specifically, in Christendom, prayer is that privilege bequeathed to man, of touching the heart of the Father through the Son, Jesus.
Prayer is therefore, not a one-way traffic. It is an action that should elicit a response. Prayer is an action that is expected to provoke a soothing reaction that should equal or overwhelm the expectations of the interlocutor.
Another question that just crossed my mind, and I guess yours, is, who should do the reacting?
WHO ANSWERS PRAYERS AND HOW?
The answer to the WHO is obvious but I think the HOW is one that calls for closer analysis. From Old Testament times, God has answered prayers but I rarely can recall any time he did so without making use of an intermediary. Joseph was used to save his family from famine. Moses was used to liberate the Israelites from bondage and all the miracles that occurred throughout the process came as a direct result of an action by Moses on God’s directives. Different prophets played similar roles, culminating in the coming of Jesus Christ who is the Messiah! He is the liberator! His manifesto can be summed up in the words – “’The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised”. How then did Jesus fulfil this mandate in his time? He did this by practically healing the sick and preaching to the people.
And oh! He did not only end there… he was always acting as an advocate for those who could not speak for themselves, the apogee and decisive moment being the driving from the Temple (which coincidentally happens to be the Gospel reading for this third Sunday of Lent). I will not want us to conclude that the people who did the different forms of businesses in the Temple were capitalists. What we can all agree on, however, is that they both represent a class or an ideology that is oppressive and exploitative. But has Christianity been living up to its expectation of being a voice for the oppressed? Can God still use us as instruments for answering prayers? Marx did not think so, and many secularists may agree… but I would not be too quick to concur because we can still use Jesus’ as the Way to direct our actions.
SO! WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
It is my opinion that had Jesus simply preached and healed the sick, he would still have been a thorn in the flesh of the Pharisees and Sadducees but he may not have been killed. The cleansing of the Temple, an episode described in all four Gospels: St. Matthew (21:12-13), St. Mark (11:15-18), St. Luke (19:45-46), St. John (2:14-17) was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. The Chief Priest and his family were making a fortune from the sale of animals for sacrifices and for all the money-changing, which was the only means to obtain the currency to buy animals and birds for sacrifices. Outraged, Jesus made a whip of cords and drove them out of the Temple.”… and he went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold there. He upset the tables of the money-changers and the seats of the dealers in pigeons; and he would not allow anyone to carry goods through the temple court. Then he began to teach them, and said, ‘Does not scripture say, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”? But you have made it a hideout for thieves.’ (Mark 11:15-17). This singular action was pivotal in Caiaphas’ doggedness that Christ should die, to save the source of the illegal wealth being amassed by his family.
I am sure at this stage it is already obvious what Christ would do in the wake of all the protests against oppression going on in the world. He will make a whip, go in and drive out the exploiters. That is to say, he will show solidarity towards those suffering, not just by speaking from a pulpit but actually confronting the suffering ad radice. This is the surest means of bringing liberation and prosperity to any people. Failure to be Christ-like in our attitude towards the poor and marginalised is to invite criticisms.
Little wonder Nkrumah accused Christianity of being an instrument of transferring the attention of the people from “inside” the universe to “outside” the universe. This is a contradiction to the liberating power of Christianity, which takes effects with the gaze of people fixed on things outside the world, and the things inside the world which conditions the existence of every human being suffering neglect. If Christianity is failing to have an impact in Africa, the problem rather than being too much religion, as secularists would want us to believe, lies with our failure to make credible use of its liberating power.
In conclusion, it is my belief that if our prayers are to be meaningful in bringing about solace in a scourged world, they should be matched by an equal measure of action. God will only answer prayers by relying on you and me to take the right action and condemn the wrong one without fear of retribution. To borrow from Wole Soyinka, “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny” and so Christ dies in all who do not proactively show solidarity with the oppressed.
Throughout the time I have been in Cameroon, (about two weeks now) I have not felt for once that a very crucial presidential election is around the corner – only once in Yaounde when I was asked to present my ID card twice within a distance of 200 km did I get the sense that there was some tension in the air. In fact, I get a greater feel that on the 9th of October 2011, Cameroonians will have to go to the polls, is when I am on Facebook.
It should not be in the least surprising for anyone who has been following Cameroonian politics. The first thing to note about the country is that it is one of the countries that are called ‘democratic’ but which has never for once elected its president. It is alleged that the first President Ahmadou Ahidjo was simply a choice of the erstwhile colonial masters who preferred him to André Marie Mbida after killing Ruben Um Nyobe. Ahidjo himself decided to single-handedly appoint Paul Biya his successor, who has clung to power since 1982. When the winds of change of the ’90s brought multi-party politics to Cameroon, it was an opportunity for old goons to learn new tricks.
The most free and fair elections in the Country was held in 1992 which the opposition led by Ni John Fru Ndi allegedly won but which, the incumbent Biya having the knife and the yam, ended up declaring himself the winner. Many today, blame Mr. Fru Ndi for the 1992 lapse. That was the decisive moment, they claim. He simply had to say the word and Cameroonians would have fought to defend their votes. He rather chose the pacifist route by taking up the bible and pointing to Cameroonians that ‘when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’. That saved Cameroon the agony of going down the path of many African nations. OR DID IT?
Since then, the incumbent Biya and his party, the CPDM have mastered the art of maintaining power at all costs. The ultimate result has been that the government has concentrated more on trying to maintain power than do anything else. Most terrible in the whole scenario is that Biya has succeeded to build even within his own party a personality cult around himself. Without holding a Party congress since 1996, he has evolved into a ‘natural candidate’ for the party. Two days ago a Congress held after his candidature had already been declared seemed to be an opportunity for him to show all that he was ‘lord’ of the party (Of course, he is. The most popular emblem of the party is now his 1985 face. It is on all party uniforms and official documents). To have selected another candidate would mean the party will have to go through an overhaul of all its intrinsic values. CPDM is synonymous with Paul Biya.
But why all this sycophancy? Why is it that the failures of the Biya regime stare at all in the face yet he keeps receiving ‘motions of support’ even from parts of the country that are so run-down that one wonders if they are part of same Cameroon? All these would have pointed to the fact that the elections are a foregone conclusion had it not been for the recent happenings of the so-called Arab Spring – especially the fall of Hosni Mubarak. This is what makes the Cameroon situation precarious.
A KEG OF GUNPOWDER?
Cameroon did not take a cue from the uprisings in North Africa as many will wrongly assume. In 2008 Cameroonians came out on a nationwide protest and strike against Mr. Biya’s bid to change the constitution, a protest that was effectively crushed by the US-trained Battalion Intervention Rapide (BIR). Since then it was clear that the force could effectively carry-out the mandate for which it was created. However, with the fall of Mubarak, even when he tried some of the tricks Biya used in 2008, (clearly showing that they were reading from the same script), it became clear to the United States that even the BIR may not be able to quell a revolt in Cameroon this time, should one occur. President Obama quickly called on Biya to hand over power as a bid to avoid the same situation whereby power could fall into the hands of someone who was not on the US control-roll. This will have been an easy thing for Biya to do but unfortunately, he has little or no guarantee that leaving power would mean freedom. He had already soiled his hands. There is the lake Nyos disaster of 1986 that still has unanswered questions; there are the massive killings that he carried out from the period of 1990 to 1992; there are the mass imprisonment of people without trial; there is the case of the 9-killed at Bepanda; there is the recent case of 2008 and many crimes against humanity which the ICC has on their lists waiting for him.
Caught in this dilemma, Biya could not declare his candidacy until a few weeks to the elections as trips to China clearly gave him reason to dare the US. While it is clear that China endorsed his bid, given that they were clearly represented at his party’s congress, the real problem is that the leadership and command of the BIR is more American than pro-Biya. Should there be massive protests in Cameroon this time around, the US will be slow in using the BIR to maintain Biya in power. However, unless the US can get a candidate they can back, it will be a difficult situation as their inaction could still lead to what they are trying ab initio to avoid. The worse case scenario, however, will be one in which the US backs another person against Biya using the BIR and Biya manages to get support from the Country’s French forces and military. A clash between the gendermarie and the military on one hand and the BIR on the other, will be inevitable. BUT THIS CAN ONLY HAPPEN IF THE US SEES A POTENTIAL THREAT TO BIYA’S REIGN AND DECIDE TO LEAVE HIM IN THE COLD!
ANY CAUSE FOR ALARM THEN?
There seems to be none as far as Cameroon is concerned. This is because of three reasons:
First is the fact that Cameroonians are generally peaceful people. No people will bear the failures of Biya with such docility. From the time Biya took power in 1982, the country has been on a steady decline in all aspects. The economic crisis officially declared in 1987 was just the beginning of worse things to come. No new infrastructure in the country can be credited to the regime. From the presidency, airports to even football stadia, everything still carries the insignia for Amadou Alhidjo. Despite all these, Cameroonians have watched the country go from bad to worse with a geometric retrogression but maintained stoic silence. This may be because they are very hard-working, such that they have been able to weather the storms and keep sustaining themselves and forging ahead, and hence, lacking some of the basic ingredients of violent revolutions such as widespread hunger and great frustration, which makes the likelihood of a popular revolution slim.
Secondly, Cameroon has a breed of opposition leaders who unlike the Alassane Dramane Ouattaras and Morgan Richard Tsvangiras, are not ready to sacrifice the blood of innocent Cameroonians for the presidency or a piece of power. John Fru Ndi showed this in 1992 and at this stage, even popular leaders like Kah Walla and Ayah Paul Abine have all shunned the way of violence. This, however, can only be sustainable if none of them decides to approach the USA or France with promises of greater concessions against China. As long as they keep hoping to win through the ballot, none will defeat Biya unless they decide to team up with the power brokers – the USA and France. If they should take this root, however, the avenues for violence in Cameroon will be greatly opened.
Thirdly, the ability of the US to maintain the status-quo is crucial. Asking Biya to leave was not because they favoured change in Cameroon but because they fear change that is not within their control. If Biya can play his cards well and retain power, the US will be all too glad to endorse him again. He may not be playing the huge role that Mubarak was playing in the Middle East but at least being as naive as he is, he is effectively the type of person the US needs to maintain a solid base in West and Central Africa. Hence the USA will back another person only when it becomes crystal clear that a popular uprising that could threaten Biya’s hold on power is imminent.
In the final analysis, one should not expect anything to really change with the present elections, unless the opposition can effectively work out a strategy that promises a fair deal to the US and France. Should this happen, then Cameroon could explode at the slightest ignition after the elections.