Francophone Activists Turn on the Heat on the Biya Regime & France: Demonstrate in Paris

In times of uncertainty, it has long been argued, the most potent weapon to guarantee victory is building alliances. The seventh suggestion I made to the Anglophone leaders who met in Washington DC last weekend, was the need to form alliances with other oppressed people – especially Francophones.

The logic is simple, we may have different visions of what we want, but we have common enemies. For the Francophone in Cameroon, it is the dysfunctional regime of Dictator Paul Biya, while to those from other countries, it is the imperialism of France.

Whether the Anglophone leaders considered doing anything of this nature is left to be seen. However, the idea has clearly been piloted both by Emmanuel Kemta, who during last Sunday’s attack on Biya, constantly referred to the killing of Anglophones; and today, but Francophones both from Cameroon and other countries such as Gabon and Congo, who demonstrated in front of the Cameroon Embassy in Paris.

The demonstrators where unanimous in the condemnation of the brutal massacre of English-Speaking Cameroonians. They were also very vocal in condemning the other atrocities perpetrated by the Biya regime among women and children in other parts of the country.

Talking to one of the organisers, he confirmed that they are guided by the principle that by working with others, all oppressed people can easily win against oppression than if they were working on their own. He said this was the beginning of a movement that was hoped will spread across all French-Speaking African countries. Their broad objective is not only to condemn the dictatorships that seem to be more rampant in Francophone Africa, but also to ensure the destruction of the Francs CFA.

It should be noted that Fourteen Countries in Africa currently subjected to the use of the French currency. There are four fundamental principles guiding France’s relationship with the CFA countries. These are captured succinctly by Pierre Canac and Rogelio Garcia-Contreras in an article in the Journal of Asian and African Studies (February 2011).

  1. The French Treasury guarantees without limits, the convertibility of the two CFA francs.
  2. The two CFA francs are convertible at a fixed exchange into French francs [now euros],”. So France abandoned the French Francs but we are stuck with the CFA Franc. Also, the fixed exchange rate can change, but only when France approves.
  3. Despite plenty of restrictions, there are no de jure controls on the movements of capital within the [CFA] zone.”
  4. The CFA zone members must “pool together a minimum of 65% of their international reserves, corresponding to 20% of the monetary base of each central bank, into an operations account at the French Treasury”.

There is therefore hope not only for Cameroonians – Anglophones and Francophones alike – but also for the whole of French Africa, should this movement gain momentum, and lead to the true liberation of French-Africa from the clutches of imperialism.

The Kingmakers Are Unhappy: Biya’s Hold on Power Threatened?

In most countries, democracy loosely translates to a system of government whereby a majority of the populace choose or elect their leaders or representatives. The nascent democracies of Nigeria and Ghana may be among the few one could look at in Africa, but the picture is very bleak when one looks at any country that has French roots. It is time

Anyone with a fresh memory will remember that in 2011, the French Special Forces decided on who became Ivory Coast’s president after Laurent Gbagbo fell out of favour with them. In the same 2011, the French where leaders in deciding that Libya’s Gaddafi had lost legitimacy, and led a bombing campaign that reduced the country to ruins, setting its developmental clock back to about 200 years and leaving it a failed state.

It is therefore interesting that recent reports state that a French parliamentary report says Paul Biya of Cameroon’s continued stay in power has become “illegitimate”. It is stated that it is Elisabeth Guigou, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, presented the report to the the French parliament.

Biya Sakorzy CompIf these reports are credible, it would raise mixed-feelings from Cameroonians and Africans in general. The first feeling would be a sigh of relief that finally the kingmaker has decided it is time for another dictator to leave power. There is no gainsaying the fact that many would be glad to see Biya kicked out of power, by all means possible.

However, if Africans have anything to learn from history, then it is that the French have not been involved in anything in Africa that actually benefited the African. “Former’ French colonies remain the most undeveloped in Africa as a clear testament to the fact that the French never left. Their continuous meddling in African affairs is a real problem and the case of Libya and Ivory Coast makes it more scary. Biya Hollande

It is therefore good news that the Kingmakers have finally lost patience with Biya which might translate in him leaving power, but how the this is done is a cause for further concern for any Cameroonian or African.

France in Recession Again: Mali to the Rescue?

Location of Mali
Location of Mali (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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,”

If I recall well, this particular crisis came after the collapse of Libya, where the French aided rebels to overthrow the government of Gaddafi and arms given the rebels, spilled-over and were used to distablilse Mali. The French then deployed an initial  2,500 soldiers on Operation Serval and Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, promised that the troops will be in Mali for just ‘a short while’. After having the number of troops rise to over 4000, it has now been confirmed by Mr Le Drian that a combat force would stay to prevent any “revival of terrorism”. adding that “This is the reason why France will remain with roughly 1,000 troops on Malian territory for an undetermined period of time to carry out counter-terrorism operations if necessary.”

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?
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.

French – Africa Policy: Damages to African and European Economies

Cfa map

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.

French Africa Policy Damages African and European Economies.

 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.

Notes:

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.

11)   Cornered in Abidjan as fears grow. Andrew harding on Africa, BBC, 06. April 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/andrewharding/2011/04/cornered_in_abidjan_as_fears_g.html

12)   Supreme Court of the United States. George W. Bush et al., Petitioners v. Albert Gore Jr., el al., 12. December 2001. http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/00-949.ZPC.html

13)   Ivory Coast´s pro-Laurent Gbagbo general Dogbo Ble on Trial. BBC, 02. October 2012.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19797488

14)   Dr. Hans Köchler. World Court without a World State. Criminal Justice under the Dictates of Realpolitic. http://www.i-p-o.org/Koechler-ICC-Realpolitik-IPO-OP-1July2012.htm

15)   The US/UN/NATO Race for Global, Full Spectrum Dominance. Black, fetzer, Mezyaev and Lehmann, 15. August 2012. nsnbc. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/the-usunnato-race-for-global-full-spectrum-dominance-14/

 

 

The Truth About the Situation in Libya

By Brian Becker, National Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition 

Aug 13 - Stop Bombing LibyaLibya is a small country of just over 6 million people but it possesses the largest oil reserves in all of Africa. The oil produced there is especially coveted because of its particularly high quality.

The Air Force of the United States along with Britain and France has carried out 7,459 bombing attacks since March 19. Britain, France and the United States sent special operation ground forces and commando units to direct the military operations of the so-called rebel fighters – it is a NATO- led army in the field.

The troops may be disaffected Libyans but the operation is under the control and direction of NATO commanders and western commando units who serve as “advisors.” Their new weapons and billions in funds come from the U.S. and other NATO powers that froze and seized Libya’s assets in Western banks. Their only military successes outside of Benghazi, in the far east of the country, have been exclusively based on the coordinated air and ground operations of the imperialist NATO military forces.

In military terms, Libya’s resistance to NATO is of David and Goliath proportions. U.S. military spending alone is more than ten times greater than Libya’s entire annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which was $74.2 billion in 2010, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book.

In recent weeks, the NATO military operations used surveillance-collecting drones, satellites, mounting aerial attacks and covert commando units to decapitate Libya’s military and political leadership and its command and control capabilities. Global economic sanctions meant that the country was suddenly deprived of income and secure access to goods and services needed to sustain a civilian economy over a long period.

“The cumulative effect [of NATO’s coordinated air and ground operation] not only destroyed Libya’s military infrastructure but also greatly diminished Colonel Gaddafi’s commanders to control forces, leaving even committed fighting units unable to move, resupply or coordinate operations,“ reports the New York Times in a celebratory article on August 22.

A False Pretext

The United States, United Kingdom, France, and Italy targeted the Libyan government for overthrow or “regime change” not because these governments were worried about protecting civilians or to bring about a more democratic form of governance in Libya.

If that were the real motivation of the NATO powers, they could start the bombing of Saudi Arabia right away. There are no elections in Saudi Arabia. The monarchy does not even allow women to drive cars. By law, women must be fully covered in public or they will go to prison. Protests are rare in Saudi Arabia because any dissent is met with imprisonment, torture and execution.

The Saudi monarchy is protected by U.S. imperialism because it is part of an undeclared but real U.S. sphere of influence and it is the largest producer of oil in the world. The U.S. attitude toward the Saudi monarchy was put succinctly by Ronald Reagan in 1981, when he said that the U.S. government “will not permit” revolution in Saudi Arabia such as the 1979 Iranian revolution that removed the U.S. client regime of the Shah. Reagan’s message was clear: the Pentagon and CIA’s military forces would be used decisively to destroy any democratic movement against the rule of the Saudi royal family.

Reagan’s explicit statement in 1981 has in fact been the policy of every successive U.S. administration, including the current one.

Libya and Imperialism

Libya, unlike Saudi Arabia, did have a revolution against its monarchy. As a result of the 1969 revolution led by Muammar Gaddafi, Libya was no longer in the sphere of influence of any imperialist country.

Libya had once been an impoverished colony of Italy living under the boot heel of the fascist Mussolini. After the Allied victory in World War II, control of the country was formally transferred to the United Nations and Libya became independent in 1951 with authority vested in the monarch King Idris.

But in actuality, Libya was controlled by the United States and Britain until the 1969 revolution.

One of the first acts of the 1969 revolution was to eliminate the vestiges of colonialism and foreign control. Not only were oil fields nationalized but Gaddafi eliminated foreign military bases inside the country.

In March of 1970, the Gaddafi government shut down two important British military bases in Tobruk and El Adem. He then became the Pentagon’s enemy when he evicted the U.S. Wheelus Air Force Base near Tripoli that had been operated by the United States since 1945. Before the British military took control in 1943, the facility was a base operated by the Italians under Mussolini.

Wheelus had been an important Strategic Air Command (SAC) base during the Cold War, housing B-52 bombers and other front-line Pentagon aircrafts that targeted the Soviet Union.

Once under Libyan control, the Gaddafi government allowed Soviet military planes to access the airfield.

In 1986, the Pentagon heavily bombed the base at the same time it bombed downtown Tripoli in an effort to assassinate Gaddafi. That effort failed but his 2-year-old daughter died along with scores of other civilians.

The Character of the Gaddafi Regime

The political, social and class orientation of the Libyan regime has gone through several stages in the last four decades. The government and ruling establishment reflected contradictory class, social, religious and regional antagonisms. The fact that the leadership of the NATO-led National Transition Council is comprised of top officials of the Gaddafi government, who broke with the regime and allied themselves with NATO, is emblematic of the decades-long instability within the Libyan establishment.

These inherent contradictions were exacerbated by pressures applied to Libya from the outside. The U.S. imposed far-reaching economic sanctions on Libya in the 1980s. The largest western corporations were barred from doing business with Libya and the country was denied access to credit from western banks.

In its foreign policy, Libya gave significant financial and military support to national liberation struggles, including in Palestine, Southern Africa, Ireland and elsewhere.

Because of Libya’s economic policies, living standards for the population had jumped dramatically after 1969. Having a small population and substantial income from its oil production, augmented with the Gaddafi regime’s far-reaching policy of social benefits, created a huge advance in the social and economic status for the population. Libya was still a class society with rich and poor, and gaps between urban and rural living standards, but illiteracy was basically wiped out, while education and health care were free and extensively accessible. By 2010, the per capita income in Libya was near the highest in Africa at $14,000 and life expectancy rose to over 77 years, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book.

Gaddafi’s political orientation explicitly rejected communism and capitalism. He created an ideology called the “Third International Theory,” which was an eclectic mix of Islamic, Arab nationalist and socialist ideas and programs. In 1977, Libya was renamed the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. A great deal of industry, including oil, was nationalized and the government provided an expansive social insurance program or what is called a welfare state policy akin to some features prevalent in the Soviet Union and some West European capitalist countries.

But Libya was not a workers’ state or a “socialist government” to use the popular if not scientific use of the term “socialist.” The revolution was not a workers and peasant rebellion against the capitalist class per se. Libya remained a class society although class differentiation may have been somewhat obscured beneath the existence of revolutionary committees and the radical, populist rhetoric that emanated from the regime.

As in many developing, formerly colonized countries, state ownership of property was not “socialist” but rather a necessary fortification of an under-developed capitalist class. State property in Iraq, Libya and other such post-colonial regimes was designed to facilitate the social and economic growth of a new capitalist ruling class that was initially too weak, too deprived of capital and too cut off from international credit to compete on its own terms with the dominant sectors of world monopoly capitalism. The nascent capitalist classes in such developing economies promoted state-owned property, under their control, in order to intersect with Western banks and transnational corporations and create more favorable terms for global trade and investment.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the “socialist bloc” governments of central and Eastern Europe in 1989-91 deprived Libya of an economic and military counter-weight to the United States, and the Libyan government’s domestic economic and foreign policy shifted towards accommodation with the West.

In the 1990s some sectors of the Libyan economic establishment and the Gaddafi-led government favored privatization, cutting back on social programs and subsidies and integration into western European markets.

The earlier populism of the regime incrementally gave way to the adoption of neo-liberal policies. This was, however, a long process.

In 2004, the George W. Bush administration ended sanctions on Libya. Western oil companies and banks and other corporations initiated huge direct investments in Libya and trade with Libyan enterprises.

There was also a growth of unemployment in Libya and in cutbacks in social spending, leading to further inequality between rich and poor and class polarization.

But Gaddafi himself was still considered a thorn in the side of the imperialist powers. They want absolute puppets, not simply partners, in their plans for exploitation. The Wikileaks release of State Department cables between 2007 and 2010 show that the United states and western oil companies were condemning Gaddafi for what they called “resource nationalism.” Gaddafi even threatened to re-nationalize western oil companies’ property unless Libya was granted a larger share of the revenue for their projects.

As an article in today’s New York Times Business section said honestly: “”Colonel Qaddafi proved to be a problematic partner for the international oil companies, frequently raising fees and taxes and making other demands. A new government with close ties to NATO may be an easier partner for Western nations to deal with.”

Even the most recent CIA Fact Book publication on Libya, written before the armed revolt championed by NATO, complained of the measured tempo of pro-market reforms in Libya: “Libya faces a long road ahead in liberalizing the socialist-oriented economy, but initial steps— including applying for WTO membership, reducing some subsidies, and announcing plans for privatization—are laying the groundwork for a transition to a more market-based economy.” (CIA World Fact Book)

The beginning of the armed revolt on February 23 by disaffected members of the Libyan military and political establishment provided the opportunity for the U.S. imperialists, in league with their French and British counterparts, to militarily overthrow the Libyan government and replace it with a client or stooge regime.

Of course, in the revolt were workers and young people who had many legitimate grievances against the Libyan government. But what is critical in an armed struggle for state power is not the composition of the rank-and-file soldiers, but the class character and political orientation of the leadership.

Character of the National Transition Council

The National Transitional Council (NTC) constituted itself as the leadership of the uprising in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city. The central leader is Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who was Libya’s Minister of Justice until his defection at the start of the uprising. He was one of a significant number of Western-oriented and neoliberal officials from Libya’s government, diplomatic corps and military ranks who joined the opposition in the days immediately after the start of the revolt.

As soon as it was established, the NTC began issuing calls for imperialist intervention. These appeals became increasing panicky as it became clear that, contrary to early predictions that the Gaddafi-led government would collapse in a matter of days, it was the “rebels” who faced imminent defeat in the civil war. In fact, it was only due to the U.S./NATO bombing campaign, initiated with great hurry on March 19 that the rebellion did not collapse.

The last five months of war have erased any doubt about the pro-imperialist character of the NTC. One striking episode took place on April 22, when Senator John McCain made a “surprise” trip to Benghazi. A huge banner was unveiled to greet him with an American flag printed on it and the words: “United States of America – You have a new ally in North Africa.”

Similar to the military relationship between the NATO and Libyan “rebel” armed forces, the NTC is entirely dependent on and subordinated to the U.S., French, British and Italian imperialist governments.

If the Pentagon, CIA, and Wall Street succeed in installing a client regime in Tripoli it will accelerate and embolden the imperialist threats and intervention against other independent governments such as Syria and Venezuela. In each case we will see a similar process unfold, including the demonization of the leadership of the targeted countries so as to silence or mute a militant anti-war response to the aggression of the war-makers.

We in the ANSWER Coalition invite all those who share this perspective to join with us, to mobilize, and to unmask the colonial agenda that hides under the slogan of “humanitarian intervention.”

THE PEACE DEAL DILEMMA IN LIBYA!

I have just finished reading a very prolific  article on the Financial Times COMPROMISE MUST BE REACHED TO END LIBYA CONFLICT and it is clear that we really still have some of the issues I raised in the last post. The problem of selective analysis and reporting of events. I would expect academics to be more objective if the mainstream media is failing. Unfortunately what I noticed from this article is way away from being objective.

While the article makes a graphic and realistic presentation of the facts facing the Libyan people and concludes that a compromise at this stage happens to be the best option, it fails in that it still at this stage draws its premises from the same false reasons that were given for the intervention in the first place.

There is no denying that there is a  good conclusion to this article, and the most reasonable one at this point in the saga, but unfortunately some facts need to be straightened. First I want to disagree that because Gaddafi used force to get and maintain power meant that he was going to kill 700,000 people in Benghazi. To call what is happening in Libya now, a lending of credence to Gaddafi’s propaganda is to ignore the bitter truth. If I remember correctly, when Gaddafi’s son addressed the people after the first day of protests, he pointed out just these terrible realities of civil war that this article highlights. But what happened? All the major media outlets interpreted it to mean he was threatening the people.

In any country – even the UK or the US – the military is there to protect the sovereignty of the State, which was clearly threatened when the first sights we saw of rebellion in Libya was of those carrying arms. If the Libyan army (so often wrongly called ‘forces loyal to colonel Gaddafi or Gaddafi forces’) was marching towards Benghazi, it was not because there were civilians on the street as was the case in Egypt and Tunisia but because men had carried arms against the State. We are yet to see footage of crowds of mass protesters in Libya as we saw in Tunisia and Egypt and as we have been seeing in Syria. The reason is simple. The Libyans had little to spur them to such action and the few who did come out (apart from the armed rebels who have a clearly different agenda), were deceived by the false impression that they could get a better country if Gaddafi was forcefully removed. Surely he did not stay in power for over four decades without getting tap roots into the ground.

A controversial no-fly zone was immediately sought from the same Security Council that Gaddafi had in 2009 criticized at the General Assembly for being undemocratic and perpetrators of disorder rather than order, (enough reason why the members of that council will want to see him out), and France and Britain with a reluctant USA started what has been the most ‘admirable’ ‘protection of civilians’ in human history. We are all witnesses of how Libyans have been protected. The logic used was humanitarianism but this in itself was greatly questioned by Stratfor at the time.

The NTC has been recognised by the powers bombing the country and what is the next move – they have started signing agreements that will see the release of money belonging to the Libyan people. If Gaddafi’s regime kept any money in Banks in the UK and US, how legitimate is it to hand it over to a group of rebels who may not even know how much it was? Why has the requests by Gaddafi for elections been turned down? How do we justify the fact that a country that had a welfare system, access to education and health that even the UK and US will envy, highest number of women entering universities – comparetively speaking, should now become a failed state because the UN has no sense of diplomacy? After listening again to the speech Gaddafi made at the UN, I now saw sense in most of what that man – a dictator as he may be – was making. The UN has been totally useless as far as maintaining peace in the world is concerned. I am sure ECOMOG has more to its credit than the UN has. If really the objective was to stop the killing of people in Benghazi, why did the bombing extend to Tripoli and to Gaddafi’s compound and civilian areas?

If at all there was any popular uprising in Libya, I am sorry to say that it was high-jacked by the very action of the UN security council which it now claims to have been the best option at the time. The United States had its war of independence and succeeded. The UK had its Glorious revolution and succeeded to come up with her current parliamentary system. Other countries had their protests like Egypt and Tunisia and succeeded (if we can call what is going on now success). Why were the Libyans not allowed to carry theirs to its logical conclusion? Why was there no similar response in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria in which the government has already massacred thousands?

What Ann-Marie Slaughter’s  article fails to point out is that most of the Libyans who have lost the wonderful lifestyle they had under Gaddafi, will not only say that a ‘devil they know is better than one they do not know’, but hey will also hate the invaders.This was manifested in the mass protests they held, expressing support for Gaddafi and  showing defiance for the invasion of their country. Owing to this crisis and given that the country is gradually being destroyed, most of them will seek asylum and be granted, but they will be foreigners with venom on their minds. If in 20 years we have Libyans bombing in the US or UK, it will not be a great surprise – that is if we have not forgotten then that we created the terrorists.

However, if  truly the UN and the rebels are sincere that they want the welfare of the people of Libya and they want to be champions of democracy – making unreasonable demands of Gaddafi is itself not democratic. The only democratic solution to this problem is that the Libyan people decide in a free and fair elections who they want their leader to be. Gaddafi should not stand the elections but there is no reason why any other person should not stand. To simply ask Gaddafi to leave and then hand power to the rebels to me is nothing more than a military coup – and we are all agreed that military coups have never been acceptable by the UN.

The situation has however taken the most unexpected twist now that the leader of rebels has been reported to have been killed. The next few weeks will hold a lot of surprises not only for Libyans, the Rebels but also for NATO.