Lapiro De Mbanga – The Eclipse of A Hero’s Life

The Life and death of each one of us, writes a memorandum for others to follow. While some people disappear completely after death, there are some however, who are simply eclipsed because their light, though shaded, lives on in myriads of ways.

I bet many of you, if not Cameroonian, have never heard of the name Lapiro De Mbanga. I do not blame you if this is the case. Almost everything in Cameroon that remotely challenges the dangerous status-quo of Paul Biya and his cohorts is always under the radar. (For more on Lapiro De Mbanga, see FabAfriq’s story)

My single consolation is that great people like Karl Marx, died in obscurity, but their ideology outlived and outshone them. Upon Lapiro’s demise, the BBC in a very short report simple called him ‘a protest singer’. But was he just that? I think not.

Lapiro was an activist of the first order. All his music was designed to fight for Cameroonians of all works of life. From the ’80s when freedom of expression was anathema in Cameroon, Lapiro used a lingo that was understood by almost every Cameroonian.

In his music he questioned issues ranging from police corruption, Cameroon foreign debt, nepotism in the Cameroon political system, the one-man-show type of governance of Paul Biya, poor governance and lack of basic amenities, the lack of anything to show from the success of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, unemployment and the degradation of Cameroon education, and challenging the constitutional change that saw Biya become eligible for life presidency.

His imprisonment for speaking out, simply confirmed that Cameroon was one of the worse countries to be outspoken – mainly because most of the world at large do not know this is the case. Upon release from prison, Lapiro did not stop, he sang promising Biya more trouble. But like many like him who continually challenged Biya, life runs a short course.

Many journalists have suffered prison sentences and some like Germain S. Ngota Ngota even died in a Cameroon prison. The million pounds question remains: how long will Biya continue to suppress the the people of Cameroon? The protests of 2008 may have failed because of lack of international support, but I am sure this is not the end. There is a limit to how much people can endure.

With a higher GDP than Cote D’Ivoire and Senegal, Cameroon seriously lags behind the two in life expectancy. It is a worry that despite the wars and violent upheavals that the Ivory Coast has faced, people are more likely to live longer there than in Cameroon.

Lapiro may have died at the very young age of 57 but like he says in one of his songs: ALUTA CONTINUA

Examining the Logic of the Obama ‘RED LINE’ and the Case for Military Intervention in Syria

Even if one were tempted to discard everything Plato wrote, his argument that in Hypocrisy or Diplomacy?the Ideal State, Reason should rule over Courage and Appetite, cannot be overlooked. This has been proven beyond measure over the past few days as the clouds of foreign invasion hangs over Syria, drowning the throes of the inglorious civil war that has engulfed the nation for over 2 years. Beating the drums and sounding the gongs of this war have been Western leaders, notably those of the United States, the United Kingdom and France. The high level of irrationality exhibited by some of the statements of these leaders, challenges the folly of the dark ages.

For example, how could David Cameron so boldly tell the world that there is evidence that the Syrian government has used Chemical weapons against its own people over 10 times already, presents a motion to be debated in parliament with the support of his Deputy, which claims of ‘at least 14 times’, yet fails to back this with any evidence other than what they call ‘highly sensitive intelligence’? How could Francoise Hollande make the rather strong and obviously naïve statement that France will ‘punish’ all those responsible for the attack, when he was in no way capable of telling who did it and the work of the UN Inspectors was yet to determine what substances were used and by whom and clearly oblivious of the fact that punitive action has no place in international law?

If anyone was to wonder who was playing the music to which these two stooges were dancing, then look no further than the United States of America. But the question that should be asked ab initio is: why all the flurry all of a sudden? Who is playing the music to which the USA itself is dancing?

Syrian women

At other times, it would be easy to point to Israel. This time, paradoxically, it is no other than what Paul Flynn says is a ‘foolishly drawn red line’ by

President Obama that needed to be crossed in Syria to become a catalyst for action. Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West goes on to argue that the real reason “…is not because of the horror of these weapons and the horror exists – but because the American president foolishly drew a red line and because of his position now, he’s going to attack or face humiliation. That’s why we’re being drawn into war”. Why then is this ‘Red Line’ statement a catalyst for invasion?

The Obama ‘RED LINE’

At the beginning of the Syrian conflict, there was only one message from the West which they claimed was the panacea to the crises… Assad had to leave power. In fact, during the last US presidential debate, President Obama firmly asserted that “Syrians are going to have to determine their own future” and Mitt Romney twice made the point that he did not ” want to have our military involved in Syria.” Both Candidates however agreed that the US needed to “make sure they [the Syrian opposition] have the arms necessary to defend themselves [though] We do need to make sure that they don’t have arms that get into the wrong hands” said Mr. Romney and President Obama concurred “For us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step, and we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are helping; that we’re not putting arms in the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us or allies in the region.”

So arming the rebels was not debatable hence it will  be anyone’s guess how the rebels have been able to sustain their offensive till date.

The point of the Obama ‘red line’ became an area of agreement between the Vice Presidential Candidates. When Raddatz asked Paul Ryan “What happens if Assad does not fall, Congressman Ryan? What happens to the region? What happens if he hangs on? What happens if he does?”
The response was ” Then Iran keeps their greatest ally in the region. He’s a sponsor of terrorism. He’ll probably continue slaughtering his people. We and the world community will lose our credibility on this.” And then again Raddatz quizzed “So what would Romney-Ryan do about that credibility?” And came the obvious answer “Well, we agree with the same RED LINE, actually, they do on chemical weapons, but not putting American troops in, other than to secure those chemical weapons. They’re right about that.”

From the onset therefore, it has never been about the Syrian people who would die because of a chemical weapons attack, but because it will be a blow to the image of the United States and a plus for Iran if Assad did not go in the end.

President Obama in his characteristic cautious nature when it comes to interventions, had therefore laid the precedence by making the infamous statement that the only time an intervention in Syria will be indubitable would be if ‘a red line was crossed’. While many at the time questioned what the red line could signify in real terms or how it could be measured, very few, if any, questioned the possibility that the line could be crossed by the rebels.

While Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria had already told Swiss TV that there was strong, though inconclusive evidence that the rebels rather than the Syrian government were using Sarin nerve gas, it was not surprising that no one felt a ‘red line’ had been crossed

Out of the blue that ‘red line’ has now been crossed because a few hundred people had joined the hundreds of thousand others who had met unprecedented death because of the civil war. Before UN inspectors had even begun their investigations, a conclusion had been drawn in Washington that it MUST have been the Syrian Regime.

While this may have come as a surprise to many, it would have been expected by those who have been following the Syrian conflict closely. 

The Syrian Conflict – How Far, So far?

One major outcome of the so-called Arab Spring, was the testing of the concept of humanitarian wars, enshrined in the notion of ‘responsibility to Protect’. Libya was the first laboratory, the rhetoric of ‘Gaddafi killing his own people’ was amplified and sold to the world. Everyone was tricked, including the United Nations which sat by and watched NATO use ‘all necessary means’ to ‘protect’ Libyans from Gaddafi. ‘All necessary means’ as ambiguous as it sounded, proved just that – equivocal at best, obscenely abstruse at worse. Libyans and their country was bombed indiscriminately, killed and maimed to ‘protect’ them from being killed by Gaddafi. After the murder of Gaddafi, Libyans were left at the mercy of armed rebels. America failed to protect her own diplomats in a Libya which had returned to the ‘state of nature’. There is no question then that they could not protect a singly Libyan. As irresponsible as the neglect of Libya was, it was not questioned by many. Emboldened by the Libyan experiment, Syria became the next in line.

The euphoria of erecting western-style democracies albeit through the use of mass revolution caught a few Syrians who were naïve enough to believe that democracy, rather than being a process, was something that could simply be uprooted and replanted. The seeds of a civil war had been planted. While Western countries quickly took to providing logistic support to rebel factions and arming them, Russia was busy fortifying the Syrian Regime. As the proxy wars were being fought, Syrians were dying in thousands and many more were becoming refugees.Syrian Children

As disunited as the rebels were, they soon made quick advance, capturing many cities including key ones like, Homs, Aleppo and Qusayr. As the rebels made rapid progress, all talk of using diplomatic means to end the conflict were quickly squashed. Many UN missions to Syria to negotiate peace ended in fiascos. As each successful mission was botched, the Syrian regime was blamed for refusing to negotiate.

By the second quarter of 2013 however, the tides began to change. The Syrian government began to gain an upper hand in the conflict, presumably with the help of Hezbollah. In the first week of June, the Syrian government gained control of Qusayr  and July, government forces had regained control of Aleppo and only the old City of Homs and a few other districts were held by the opposition.

It was becoming obvious that the government had greater chances of winning. As already discussed, An Assad victory would have serious implications:

  • First, it would be a slap to the face of the USA and a huge setback to its hegemony.
  • Secondly, It would mean another lost investment by Western powers and there will be no returns from all the arms and logistic support given to the rebels.
  • Thirdly, it would mean a major victory for Russia and China, and especially the former who would have made huge financial gains from supplying arms to the Syrian goverment
  • Fourthly, it would mean the emboldenment of Iran and the consolidation of their power in the region.

This therefore meant, Assad had to be stopped from winning at all costs. Helping the rebels had proven abortive, and another direct intervention would certainly be frowned at not only in the Middle East but also within Western countries where citizens have become war-weary.

The only remaining option was therefore for the Syrian regime to do that which they had been warned not to do – cross the red line. It therefore seemed only too convenient that Syrian forces, which were already having an upper hand in the civil war, should carry out an act which they knew would inevitably bring the biggest military in the world against them.

Simple logic would tell that the Syrian regime had no reason whatsoever to use chemical weapons, whereas, the rebels, desperate for Western intervention and banking on the Obama threat, had every motivation to use it.

English: US President Barack Obama and British...
US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron trade bottles of beer to settle a bet during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obama therefore, like Herod who made a promise to Herodias’ daughter and realized too late he could not back out, had to do something. Since he cannot act on his own, he needed to recruit heralds.  Remembering the gullibility of Tony Blair during the Iraqi invasion of 2003 and the role David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy played in Libya, Obama knew exactly who to recruit.

The British Connection and the Triumph of Reason

Obama... You deceived me!
Obama… You deceived me!

A 40-minute call to David Cameron did the trick. Mr. Cameron abandoned his holiday, rushed back and convened parliament, also cutting short their holidays. A motion was hurriedly put together, but like sweet palm wine, it was sweet to the mouth but void of substance. The British House of Commons came out on the 29th of August 2013 and showed the world that they were not only going to avoid being sucked into the folly of 2003, but that they had enough information to ask the questions that needed asking.

With a complete deconstruction of the government’s motion for a military intervention into Syria, Reason triumphed over Courage and Appetite. The historic defeat of the British government in parliament on an issue of foreign policy certainly marks a new dawn for imperialistic wars.

Conclusion

Whether the US will decide to go into Syria without the UK or not is left to be seen within the next few days. What this is going to mean for UK-US relations is still a matter of conjecture. These notwithstanding, it will go down in history that the world stood by and watched innocent children, women and men, being murdered in Syria while power-politics and proxy wars took centre stage. The UN Security Council will certainly not provide a solution as the divide that has existed over Syria will not dissolve into thin air. Of the 165 nations that signed the convention on Chemical weapons, Syria is not among (contrary to David Cameron’s postulations) meaning that the signatories of the convention do not even have the legitimacy to call Syria to order for the alleged use of chemical weapons.

While Libya has been the white elephant in the room throughout this debate, as clearly evidenced in the British Parliament where it was completely ignored and Iraq became the reference point, the failure of the Libyan intervention certainly writes a memorandum for us all.

US Foreign Policy: Isolationism or Strategy Change?

Introduction

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.

500 Years Later – Time For Africa to Forget… A Review!!!

INTRODUCTION

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?

IMPERIALISM/CAPITALISM

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.

NEO-COLONIALISM

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

EDUCATION

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.

NOT COVERED….

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.

CONCLUSION

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.

REFERENCES

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.

War Against Women Rages on as Kenyan women forcibly sterilised for having HIV

 

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.

Women deserve the right to Choose

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!!!

They say “NO TO FORCED STERILISATION”

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’
Amani

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.

NGO involvement
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 Uzbeki government firmly denied the reports.

 

Teachable Moments Loom in Syrian Conflict

 

Christof Lehmann

After more than 18 months of belligerent action against the government de jure of the Syrian Arab Republic it is still maintaining relative stability and security. A peaceful resolution however, becomes increasingly illusive while the potentially catastrophic regional and global consequences of the failure to broker a peaceful resolution seem to be a harbinger of a return to global barbarism, anarchy and unspeakable human suffering.

NATOS´s Victory and Teachable Moments i Libya.

In an article, published in Foreign Affairs March/April 2012 edition which was published prior to NATO´s 25th Summit in Chicago, Ivo H. Daalder, the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, and James G. Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander and Commander of the U.S. European Command, gave a a clear indication of what NATO has in mind for Syria.

Daalder and Stavridis described NATO´s Operation Unified Protector in Libya as  ” NATO´s Victory in Libya. The Right Way to Run and Intervention” and as “A Teachable Moment“. (1) What was so “teachable” about Libya, and what is “The Right Way to Run an Intervention” ? An analysis of NATO´s post 25th Summit doctrine and the consequences for security and stability in the Middle East points to a two tiered NATO strategy which combines low cost, low intensity, illegitimate warfare with an aggressive nuclear posture. (2)

There are in fact numerous teachable moments in the phenomena that is euphemized under the name “The Arab Spring”: The successful political manipulation of Turkey; The successful implementation of plans developed by the RAND Corporation which already in 1996 advised that Turkey should be governed by Gül in the office of President and R. Tayyip Erdogan in the office of Prime Minister, as a precondition for a successful implementation of a comprehensive solution for the Middle East; The successful transformation of the Turkish High Command from a bastion of secularism into a High Command that would cooperate with Muslim Brothers and Al-Qaeda mercenaries in preparation of the division of both Syria and Turkey along ethnic lines; The successful manufacturing of a crisis as precondition for the successful abuse of a UN Security Council resolution, as a precondition for the successful implementation of regime change.

A UN Security Council resolution is adopted when it has the concurrent vote of all permanent members. However, since resolution #4 (1948) on Spain it has become practice that abstentions are interpreted as a passive or quasi-concurrent vote. This practice implied that the members who propose the resolution are not overstepping the resolutions authorizations to a significant degree.

When Russia and China abstained on UNSC resolution # 1973 (2011) on Libya it was implicitly understood that Russia and China expected that NATO would adhere to the letter of the resolution and not overstep it in any significant degree. It should be added here, that the fact that the UNSC has adopted a resolution does not necessarily make it legitimate.

What Daalder and Stavridis also found “teachable” was that NATO or its allies could disregard the Convention against the Use of Mercenaries and use the Al Qaeda associated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group as infantry, while abusing resolution 1973 to wage an aerial war against the Libyan military.

Special Forces on the ground would function as liaison within a joint command while NATO could enjoy “plausible deniability”. The Libyan government de jure was ousted, the head of state murdered in cold blood, an independent investigation into his death could be prevented, a proxy government could be installed.

It is not surprising that Daalder and Stavridis proclaim a NATO Victory in Libya. From a NATO perspective it was in deed a victory and a teachable moment. It was also a moment that has taught both Russia and China that NATO will abuse an abstention at the Security Council to implement wars of aggression.

The UN Security Council has since been frozen in a deadlock between NATO members on one hand and China and Russia on the other. The deadlock has brought the necessity of structural changes within the United Nations into focus. The United Nations is rapidly loosing its residual credibility and functionality as an instrument for conflict resolution while security and stability in the Middle East are deteriorating. Negotiating a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria, for the brewing conflict between NATO, Israel, the GCC member states on one hand, and Iran, Russia, China on the other at the UN seems increasingly implausible, if not impossible.

NATO´s victory in Libya has not only brought about regime change, it has also devastated the countries infrastructure, divided the country along tribal and ethnic lines, resulted in a weak and split national government that is unable to maintain internal as well as external stability and security. What is most worrying about Daalder´s and Stavridis interpretations of Libya as victory and teachable moment is, that it implies that the achievement of the destabilization of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and subsequently Turkey are likely to be perceived as victories and teachable moments too.

The cost of further NATO victories in terms of regional and global stability and security, in terms of the economies of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Turkey and the global economy, the cost in terms of a deterioration of international law and a return to barbarism and anarchy in conflict and conflict resolution, and the cost in terms of human suffering are staggering.

Peaceful Resolution of Syria Crisis only Possible with Good Faith.

The primary precondition for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Syria is that all parties are negotiating and acting in good faith.

An immediate withdrawal of all NATO and GCC member states special forces and other military personnel from Syria is a minimum precondition for showing good faith.

An immediate adherence to the Convention against the Use of Mercenary Forces and other international bodies of law by NATO and GCC member states, Jordan, Lebanon or major political players in Lebanon such as Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, Israel, Libya and any other nation that is currently involved in financing, training, arming or other support of insurgents and the armed opposition.

An immediate establishment of strict controls of refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Particularly the refugee camps in Turkey are being systematically abused to recruit, train, arm and deploy insurgents into Syria. Strict controls would include that entrance into and exit from the camps is strictly monitored by Turkish police or military personnel, eventually with the participation of military observers from one or several non NATO or GCC member states.

The close monitoring of all Syrian borders by neighboring countries military forces to stop the illegal flow of weapons, troops and the deployment of military observers from non NATO, GCC member states.

The blatant violations of international law in particular by Turkey and Jordan, who not only offer their territory for infiltration by foreign fighters, but who actively take part in organizing the subversion, and all logistical and other support of insurgents must halt immediately.

The new joint UN – Arab League envoy Ladhkah Brahmini should be given the full support of all UN member states. His role is, however not likely to be perceived as that of a neutral or fair broker, as long as the Arab League upholds the dispensation of Syria´s membership. Ladhkah Brahmini will be facing an insurmountable challenge as long as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who together with Iran and Egypt form the Contact Group, are violating international law and sponsoring the insurgency and subversion.

Initiatives by the Arab League to politically, diplomatically, economically and otherwise isolate Syria which are inherently opposed to the Charter of the Arab League and its purported function do not create preconditions for negotiations in good faith. Illegitimate initiatives, such as the one to pressure Arabsat and Nilesat to stop broadcasting Syrian Radio and TV satellite signals in order to facilitate absolute image and media control by nations who are taking part in the attempted subversion must cease. A dialog in good faith is not facilitated by one-sided, strongly biased propaganda. The Organization of the Islamic Conference must recall the dispensation of Syria. The abuse of this organization is dangerous and risks to aggravate a religious dimension of the conflict and to further aggravate the abuse of Sunni – Shia conflicts world wide.

Organizations such as the “Friends of Syria” group, which is a de facto subversive alliance must be abandoned as instruments for finding a resolution to the conflict. The Friends of Syria group is a de-facto cartel of nations who meet to organize systematic violations of international law in an attempt to bring about regime change in Syria.

Iran is to host a conference of 120 nations to work towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis. It is a positive initiative that should be supported, but it is not likely to bring about a peaceful resolution unless Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the U.A.E. will take part in good faith.It is a positive initiative that should be supported, but it risks to further aggravate the conflict unless Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are taking part and are willing to play a constructive role, which is unlikely.

In the absence of NATO and GCC member states, Jordan´s, Israel´s, Libya´s and others good faith in negotiating a peaceful resolution, the Iranian initiative may in fact be part of the only viable alternative. If it is supported by Russia and China it may have a chance to succeed.

The second best solution to an all inclusive solution that embraces the armed political opposition and the nations who are supporting it would be the establishment of a multilateral group that protects Syria from the consequences of a continued aggression.

Such an alternative solution could include the following initiatives:

Countering the consequences of attempts to diplomatically, politically, economically and otherwise isolate the government de jure of Syria by reinforcing diplomatic and political relations, by trade agreements that help alleviate the devastating consequences of sanctions, and to diversify the one sided international discourse about Syria.

Even though political parties in Syria are legitimate, and even though one opposition party is holding a ministerial post in the unity government, there is a lack of party infrastructure that makes opposition parties equal competitors to the Arab Socialist Baath Party. Selective support of the one or the other political party at building a party infrastructure can be problematic and invites unwarranted foreign interference.

A model for developing a democratic culture and multi-party infrastructure projects could facilitate a pluralistic political process which could to remedy the consequences of decades of government under emergency laws.

When organizing those projects, it must be taken into consideration that Syria, because of its de-facto state of war with Israel has had heightened security needs which have not decreased since the onset of the attempted subversion. As a long term strategy of delegating political influence and responsibilities to multiple political parties is the best strategy to discourage from attempts to use violence and for strengthening national coherence.

In the case that the UN fails as an instrument to safeguard the national sovereignty and security of Syria while the subversive alliance continues the illegitimate support of armed insurgents, it must be considered to add a military dimension to finding a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The government de jure of the Syrian Arab Republic has the right to sign treaties with friendly, non hostile nations and deploy foreign military troops on Syrian territory. Failure by Turkey and Jordan to secure that insurgents are not using their territories as bases of operations for transgressions in Syria could be countered by the deployment of international troops along the borders to help repel insurgents. Further failure of Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, as well as NATO member states to halt the illegitimate support could warrant diplomatic and other sanctions.

Sadly, in the light of sustained aggression, the most viable way to secure peace and stability is to aid Syria by establishing diplomatic, political, economical and military credibility against a foreign aggression.

At closing this article, I would like to reiterate that war crimes will be committed as long as they can be committed with utter impunity. The current state of affairs, where NATO and allied nations instrumentalize the ICC and special tribunals for political show trials and victors justice, with an ICC that in and on itself has no legitimacy in international law on one hand, and a Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal that has no other than moral authority, it is unlikely that the international regression into barbarism can be halted.

Those nations who wish to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Syria and who want to prevent future aggressions, would be well advised to establish international jurisdiction for the most serious crimes to limit war criminals ability to act with impunity.

Source: Christof Lehmann, Editor: NSNBC

27.08.2012

Notes:
1) Daalder Ivo H, Stavridis James G. (2012) ”NATO´s Victory in Libya. The Right Way to Run an Intervention“. Foreign Affairs March/April 2012 pp 2-7
2) Lehmann Christof (2012) “NATO`s 25th Summit in Chicago in Preparation of Global Full Spectrum Dominance, Interventionism, Possible Preparations for A Regional War Directed against Russia and China, and Developments in Global Security.” nsnbc, May 20 2012. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/natos-25th-summit-in-chicago-in-preparation-of-global-full-spectrum-dominance-interventionism-possible-preparations-for-a-regional-war-directed-against-russia-and-china-and-developments-in-global/


 

Assange Is A True Democrat: Chomsky

 

It has been with some degree of fascination that I have followed the unfolding of the Julian Assange saga. While I have been apt to question what all this meant for the so much talk about freedom of speech, Britain’s recent attitude towards it has been nothing but amusing. In all this however, I see Assange being the ultimate winner as it has done nothing but increase his popularity – something he will surely cherish. While Britain has said that it remains committed to reaching a diplomatic solution to the presence of Assage in Ecuador’s London embassy, after both countries took steps to defuse a row over his action in taking refuge, Noam Chomsky has proclaimed Assange a true democrat.

The WikiLeaks founder who has been living in the Ecudaorian  embassy’s quarters for more than two months in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations received his accolade in a discussion New Matilda had with Chomsky as presented in the following write-up by Tamara Fenjan  of NewMatilda.com,

Noam Chomsky

Last week NM spoke with US intellectual giant Noam Chomsky about Julian Assange, who is now the centre of a diplomatic nightmare in London. Tamara Fenjan reports

Julian Assange has been granted asylum by the Ecuadorian government, creating a diplomatic row between the Latin American nation and the United Kingdom, which remains intent to extradite him to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault. While voices have been raised in Sweden and the UK, the US has so far declined to “interject” itself into the situation.

However, there is one American who has been loud and clear in his support of Assange — MIT linguistics professor and left-wing intellectual Noam Chomsky.

Last week Chomsky told New Matilda he believes Assange is right to fear extradition to Sweden, where if the USA asks for him to be extradited he would “be on the next flight”.

“If Swedish interrogators want to interrogate him they can do it in London,” Chomsky told NM. “Everyone in their right mind knows that this is a stepping stone to the US.” He draws a parallel with Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of having leaked thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, and says that what to happened Manning is a clear indication of how Assange will be treated if he is extradited to the United States.

Manning has been held in a military prison for almost a year and a half without trial — most of that time in solitary confinement.

WikiLeaks Founder – Julian Assange

“There is no doubt that the purpose of all this is to get [Manning] to say something about Assange, who will also be treated the same way if he ever comes to the US. … Therefore, a decent country at this time — if there is one — would grant him political asylum,” Chomsky said.

Chomsky says of the Swedish legal system “that one can not rely on it, which is not so surprising.” Sweden cooperated with the Nazis during World War II and is now working with the Americans, he points out. “Sweden cooperates with whoever is in power … suppose that Syria asks Sweden to extradite somebody to Syria whom they accuse works with the rebels — would Sweden do it? No!”

“By right [Assange] ought to get a medal of honour. He’s performing his responsibilities as a citizen of a democratic society and people ought to know what their representatives are doing ”

The question now is whether UK police will storm the Ecuadorian embassy, located in London’s Knightsbridge. Wikileaks reports via Twitter that this morning “there are still over 35 police surrounding the Ecuadorian embassy”, and has issued a statement condemning “in the strongest possible terms the UK’s resort to intimidation”.

“A threat of this nature is a hostile and extreme act, which is not proportionate to the circumstances, and an unprecedented assault on the rights of asylum seekers worldwide,” the organisation said.

Assange’s fears seem to be corroborated by private confirmation given to Craig Murray, a respected former UK ambassador and human rights activist:

“I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] that the UK government has indeed decided — after immense pressure from the Obama administration — to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.

“This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries — arguably millennia — of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.”

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam spoke this week in support of Assange. Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the Federal Government would not “make representations one way or the other” regarding Assange’s asylum claim.

Source: Chomsky.info

 

Has Marafa Jump-started The National Conference in Cameroon

Is the system of corruption and dictatorship that has held Cameroon to ransom for about three decades about to self-destruct? Could it be that the time has come when history in its ever-sure nature has run its course and what was denied Cameroonians since the 1990s is being given on a platter of Gold? Or on a more sombre note, could it be that Cameroon is becoming a stage where global powers will play-out some of their dirty politics as has been the case with several African countries?

Biya – 30 years and counting…

I recently uploaded a cover picture on my Facebook which reads: ‘AFRICA IS THE FUTURE’ but each time I look at it, I find myself assailed by conflicting emotions. I have not stopped wondering how it can happen. A casual glance  at the continent reveals a rich continent beset by widespread corruption and poverty; the thriving of dictatorship and the crowning of sit-tight attitude of leaders. It could be a given that the inability of the continent to get out from the pit of underdevelopment and the prevalence of armed conflicts can only be addressed effectively if the horrors of corruption, lack of solid institutions, genocides, wars and other forms of violence are effectively dealt with within the systems in which the evils were perpetrated. When the International Criminal Court for example fails to try Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Taylor in Ivory Coast and Liberia respectively, but allows Saddam to be tried and executed in war-torn Iraq and is currently showing laxity in taking Saif Gaddafi away from war-torn Libya, the indication of double standards, which many are bound to decry becomes obvious. Looking at South Africa and Sierra Leone however, one sees situations in which Truth and Reconciliation Commissions – systems of public truth-telling – were effective in healing the nations of the scourges of apartheid and civil war respectively. Sober reflection then on whether the Sovereign National Conference that has been the wish of many Cameroonians could be the panacea to the nation’s scourge.

Marafa – Rocking the Boat…

This article thinks that could be the case – given the recent revelations by the erstwhile Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation,  Marafa Hamidou Yaya, who was hauled to prison without trial. By the end of it, your conclusions will be as good as mine but no matter what they are – it will not be long before we are proven right or wrong.

At the dawn of the 90s, when the bloody launching of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) set off the democratization process in Cameroon, a National Conference was viewed as the panacea for a new direction for the country. The clamour for the National Conference was backed by the all powerful National Coordination of opposition parties, it was backed by the civil society, and the private media buoyed by exciting political developments amply articulated the case made by proponents of this forum. The response from President was “sans objet”, a National Conference will serve no purpose is a loose translation of his laconic response.

His response could be understood because in the Republic of Benin, where the first National Conference took place in the continent, President Kerekou sat helpless and watched as he was stripped of all the dictatorial powers he had. The experience in Zaire now the DR.Congo had not gone well at all for President Mobutu. In lieu of the National Conference, President Biya organized the Tripartite Talks which did little to address the concerns of change thirsty Cameroonians. Over two decades later, there is every indication that Cameroon needs that National Conference more than ever before. Infact the urgency becomes fiercer considering the subtle viciousness of the raging succession battle within the ruling establishment which is overheating the polity. A lot of ink has flowed since the arrest of former Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni and former Territorial Administration Minister and Politburo member of the CPDM Marafa Hamidou Yaya. In a couple of letters Marafa by fate or by design may have finally jump started the National Conference.

Whereas the other high profile detainees have largely remained silent, Marafa has put the regime in panic mood  with embarrassing revelations contained in letters that have left the country only yearning for more .As the country watches in awe, as the CPDM is pinned to the wall unable to defend their Party Chairman cum Head of State, as the SDF joins the fray providing a high profile team of legal advisers to defend Marafa, and with the CPDM dominated parliament reportedly backing a demand for a commission of enquiry into kickbacks paid to former Minister of Transport and now Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma as revealed in one of Marafa’s letters, the former Secretary General at the Presidency and Minister of Territorial Administration may have launched that National Conference.

There may be no reason  to believe everything Marafa says , but if the Government and the ruling party are running helter skelter, then there should be elements of truth. That the ruling establishment is unable to articulate a coherent response can only add up to guilt. Rather than answer the charges , the regime thinks casting doubts on Marafa’s character and vaulting ambition will sweep the issues under the rug. But what about the facts he has used in making his arguments? Why  has the regime not provided facts to the contrary? Issues raised by Marafa have bordered on his doubts on the ability of ELECAM to organize free elections, advise to Biya to step down, instances of corruption brought to the attention of the head of state, his opposition to violent crackdowns in Douala et al. Most of these issues would probably never have occured had the National Conference taken place to lay a strong foundation for a country serious on meeting 21st century challenges.

A National Conference will possibly have vouch for separation of powers with checks and balances. It may have made it possible to have strong institutions instead of a strong man in power. It would likely have come up with the kind of electoral reforms that will make Cameroon the envy of other countries. The CPDM backed Biya in rejecting in. It possibly would have come up with reforms that would have quelled the institutionalization of corruption. Today there is a whole government in jail for crimes not clearly spelt out, with facts that are hazy though no one doubts the magnitude of corruption within the regime. It never took place and the result is a faulty constitution whose provisions have never been fully implemented since 1996. It never took place and since 1990, Cameroon has not known a single election that is free and fair election.

The National conference may have addressed concerns of Southern Cameroonians who have since continued to be humiliated and stretched and now want nothing but a restoration of their statehood.

Hard to make an exhaustive list of what a National Conference will have addressed but it is right to say the issues have been multiplied many fold. Even President Biya and his CPDM who “saw no merit” may rethink their stance if the clock could be turned backwards. While his collaborators in jail must have tasted the poison they helped serve Cameroonians, the President cuts a pathetic figure. In power for circa thirty years is Mr Biya proud of his legacy as it stands today?

For the National Conference, dialogue or whatever it is called to be successful, people must speak their minds, people must unburden secrets, people must be ready to listen and as hard as it might be forgive. Marafa has fingered Issa Tchiroma, Fame Ndongo and even the President himself. In the absence of a formal gathering, his letters serve a purpose. Cameroonians may love to know about election rigging and its techniques, there will love to know how proceeds from oil were managed when he was Chair of the National Hydrocarbons Company. How about shedding light on the operational command in Douala? What if someone tells us what really happened to money contributed by Cameroonians during the Coup de Coeur for the upkeep of the embattled lions ate the 1992?   How about Minister Fame Ndongo answer the charge from Marafa on his role in siphoning funds for some bogus satellite program at CRTV? Already former CPDM Central Committee Member Chief Milla Assoute is adding flesh to the corruption charge levied against Issa Tchiroma for on a contract for the maintenance of Cameroon Airline planes in the mid nineties.

While it is laudable that the SDF is pushing for a Commission of Enquiry on the compensation of victims of the 1995 plane crash, one must ask why the MPs of the leading opposition party did not ask for one on the Albatross, or for one to review the modus operandi of Sparrow Hawk. Hopefully Marafa’s barbs can fire up others within the ruling party, the opposition, civil society, the progressive forces in the Diaspora et  al to step up the fight for change. The country needs that National Conference or some genuine form of National dialogue. On it may depend whether the country makes or mars. On it depends genuine reconciliation because beyond the façade of peace lies a badly fragmented polity. Genuine reconciliation starts with dialogue, shedding light on issues not to reopen old wounds but to better understand each other and chart a better way forward. From the 1984 coup, the repatriation of the remains of former President Ahidjo, national recognition of heroes of the independence struggle like Roland Moumie, Ernest Ouandie, etc. South Africa had its truth and reconciliation with sordid tales that hurt but helped to heal the wounds of apartheid. Nigeria after Abacha tried the something similar. Cameroon needs its own and Marafa’s missives though inadvertently may be leading the country towards this ultimate eventuality.

Source: Pan African Visions

THE AFRICAN DILEMMA: KONY 2012 – LIBERATION OR RE-COLONISATION?

Introduction

Today has been a very disturbing day for me and I guess for all the millions of people around the world who were fortunate or unfortunate to have watched the Kony 2012 30-minute video that has been making waves across the web. I have hitherto prided myself on knowledge of African history and how this is instrumental in understanding and shaping the future but my reaction to the video made me to have a rethink. Yes! You may have guessed right – I reacted like the million others who were so moved by the story that they immediately shared it to their friends and followers. I shared it on twitter and within a few moments it was retweeted.

This piqued my curiosity and going back to the video within a few hours, I saw that the viewership had risen from about 26 million to 32 million. Impressive! If the world could respond this quick to the plight of Africa, then famine, diseases, torture, rape, child soldier and all the ills associated with the continent will be history. Unfortunately, all this was about one man Joseph Kony and the organisation Invisible Children that was championing the cause was calling on the world to legitimise military intervention into the whole Central African region.

This video taken in isolation will seem the best possible thing to do to stop a psychopath like Joseph Kony. However if we hearken to Santayana’s popular quote that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, it becomes expedient to look back a little at Africa’s past, for as John Paul II wrote, “if you want to understand the situation in Africa, its past and its picture, we must start from the truth of the African person – the truth of every African in his or her concrete and historical setting.” (John Paul II, Pilgrimage to Africa, 1980, 200)

In the narrative of the video, three things seem to stand out:

  1. Africans cannot solve their problems and so need external help – which takes us back to the ideology that shaped slavery and the slave trade.
  2. There is need for sustained military presence in the Central African Region since Kony cannot be tied to one single country. Given the threat on the stronghold on power and capital in Africa posed by China, this represents the ideology of the Partition and colonisation of Africa.
  3. Finally, with the effective installation of AFRICOM within the region, most decisions will come from outside the continent reflecting the effective reaffirmation of neo-colonialism.

Slavery and the Slave Trade

If you think that the idea that Africans cannot solve their own problems is a recent one then you need some more history lessons. By the 18th century there existed a Western intellectual bias which denied rationality to the African. This made Africans to be considered as still living in the primordial stage of the human species. This presumption of the African as sub-human was used by the Western world to justify slavery.[1] For them, Africans were more or less beasts or sub-human. What made Africans close to the human species was their possession of language. But since they had no rationality, they could be used as beasts. Even the name given to Africans connotes negativity. ‘Negro’ is derived from the Latin word “Niger – Nigri” which means ‘Black’. George Ekwuru further explains that:

In this connection, the thinking of Africans was branded as “black thinking”. Ideologically, from a racist point of view, “thinking black” as opposed to “thinking white”, would be something amounting to “incoherence”, “pre-logical” or simply “irrational”.[2]

Basing their arguments on the supposed fact of Africa’s lack of rationality the western world introduced and carried out the inhumane slave trade unhampered for several centuries. This left an indelible mark on the African. The treatments meted out on the slaves are better left untold. Mokwogo Okoye recalls graphically some of the aspects of the torture as whipping, mutilation of limbs, ears and private parts.[3] Other forms of treatments include the use of red-hot iron rods to make identification marks on the slaves, the throwing overboard of sick slaves and the terrible mode of ‘packaging’ experienced by the slaves in the Trans-Atlantic phase of the triangular trade.

The crème of the African society was deployed to work and develop other lands especially present day USA while the aged and the very young ones were left behind to nurse the wounds of the painful loss of their loved ones. All these animalistic treatments kept the African in a psychological state of an inferior frame of mind. This, the African has continued to pass down through generations, [4] such that the problem of inferiority complex is almost becoming perpetual especially among the present breed of leaders. In order to authenticate their existence, African leaders try to seek approval from foreign powers for almost every action they take regarding governance. It is therefore not surprising that the governments of Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic think themselves incapable of stopping the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) but feel the USA can send foreign troops to achieve the feat.

The Scramble/Partition of Africa and Colonialism

China has already been accused of re-colonising Africa. Their strategy of tapping into the strongholds of power and capital may be different but the outcome is similar to that of the 19th century project. By the third quarter of the 19th century, the scramble for, and partition of Africa was fully realized at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. African states were arbitrarily divided amongst the European states, leading to the complete enslavement of the continent. Ekwuru presents the picture prosaically thus:

While most of the African chiefs in their cultural naïveté were gathering with their communities to drink and chat over the new gin from a strange land, a siege was being laid at the head of the continent – discussions were going on for the eventual partitioning of their land and their consequent subjection to slave status. In this conference, Europe arrogated to itself the international right of appropriating the whole continent with the so-called doctrines of spheres of influence and effective occupation. With the Berlin Conference, Africa lost its sovereignty and became an enslaved continent.[5]

Slavery was therefore given a new face with the introduction of colonialism. This period marked the advent of scientific slavery, racism, cultural dilapidation and imperialism. Colonialism was therefore an evolved form of slavery. Colonialism was a higher and disastrous form of slavery – the depersonalisation of a people within their own land.  Colonialism made effective use of ideology as its instrument of slavery. Everything that the African culture stood for was cancelled as primitive, fetish and uncivilized. As a consequence, many African societies have been destroyed, disorganised and are in a state of cultural paralysis by the successful implementation of the ideology of imperial domination. This had far-reaching effects.

First of all, it led to the collapse of the old cultural setup, since it involved the destruction of African cultural values ranging from shrines, sacred grooves, places of worship etc., which were at the very core of the African social and religious life. This shattered the traditional world view and cosmology of Africa with its basic symbolic mind-set, and the set of values that characterise the typical African society.

Secondly, colonialism led to the phasing out of old values. With the collapse of the African traditional set up, Africans began to loose grip of their basic values. Values like the dignity of the human person, respect for life, communalism and egalitarianism amongst other values were lost. While for the Europeans, this was the beginning of civilisation for Africa, little did the Africans realise that they were gradually being plunged in to an identity crisis that will manifest in the many civil wars that are still being fought in the continent.

Finally, with the colonial conquest, and a state of cultural paralysis effectively installed, the next move was for the imperialists to implant their own culture on African soil. At the meeting of two cultures, there is the natural tendency for the two to integrate, borrowing from each other. In the case of colonialism, it was a one sided acculturation. A new system of governance was introduced, with the novelty of having some Africans act as government officials. This brought about the problem of class-distinction which hitherto had been alien to Africa. Those who were educated by imperialist, seeming gained the status of Europeans. By this new status, he or she was elevated up the social stratum to constitute a middle class. Thus, a formerly socialist society transmuted into a capitalist society. Franz Fanon characterised the forged middle class as an “underdeveloped middle class”,[6] 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.

The Kony 2012 project, like colonialism is making use of ideology. Like the Berlin conference, it was conceived, designed and is being executed with an audience in mind other than those concerned. Of the 20 celebrities that were targeted, none is African and of course the 12 policy makers could never be African – yet it is about Africa. While the earlier colonial project claimed to be a mission to civilise, this one is a mission to ‘protect’. But whose interests are they protecting? The video makes it clear that the US has no interests in the region and that would have been true had China, who is threatening to take over from them as the world power, not been making massive progress in Africa. The second scramble for Africa is effectively underway!

Neo-Colonialism

A close look at most African countries especially the most chronically poor and the former French colonies will dispel the myth that political independence was fully won by African states from their colonial masters. The granting of formal independence by the colonial masters to their erstwhile colonies, was (with a few exceptions) never the achievements of popular based  national liberation movements but rather the result of a compromise reached between the former colonial powers and an almost negligible African bourgeoisie they created. This is a compromise that is aimed at continuing the dependent-satellite status on a new basis and which is now becoming more important, especially in the wake of growing challenges to the international capitalist system. The result is a neo-colonial society, tied in a multiplicity of ways not only to foreign capital but relying on a foreign military for survival.

The problem here is what Nkrumah had already pointed out that colonialism was slavery from without, but neo-colonialism was slavery from within, and as such more dangerous.[7] The situation is made more bizarre by the fact that most of these Africans have been stuffed with foreign ideas such that they are Africans with imperialist mentalities working against their own nations.

Some Questions though…

While I will like to commend Kony 2012 for its great sweep, I think it will be fair if we do a little brainstorming. If Kony is as elusive as he is made to seem in the video, where did they get such clean and seemingly recent shots of him? Who has been funding this man for the over twenty years that he has been in operation? Which countries are selling him arms? Of course since he is not producing them, he must be buying them from somewhere. Should this campaign not involve calling to book those arming such a dangerous creature? If Bin Laden with a far more sophisticated network could be traced and a few Navy seals sent in to capture and kill him, what makes such a mission difficult in Kony’s case? Kony has not been seen since 2006, why has catching him become so urgent?

Before jumping to a conclusion, like I did immediately after watching the video, I think it will do some justice to history and posterity to answer these questions before joining a campaign that could end up hurting the very people we aim to protect.

NOTES

[1] See R. F. Burton, (1864), A Mission to Gelele, King of Dahomey, 2nd ed. Vol. 2 London: Tinsley Brothers, p. 200

[2] Emeka George Ekwuru; (2001), Africa and the Myth of the Sleeping Giant: Towards the Age of Afrizealotism (Owerri: Totan Publishers Ltd., p. 105

[3] Mokwogo Okoye; (1964),  African Responses, (Devori Lifrecombe: Arthur H. Stockwell Ltd., p. 97

[4] Okoye; p. 98

[5] Ekwuru, Africa and the Myth of the Sleeping Giant, p.88

[6] Franz Fanon; (1963)The Wretched of the Earth, New York: Grove Press, p. 178

[7] K. Nkrumah (1964) Consciencism, “Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonisation with Particaular Reference to the African Revolution” London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., p. 50

Attack on Syria likely before March?

After the Arab Leagues discontinuation of it´s mission in Syria, the closure of European and Arab Embassies in Damascus, and the non binding resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, all signals are set “Go” for the War on Syria and Iran. The remaining questions are, what will be the pretext to trigger the transition from the months long covert to an overt war, when will it be initiated, how is it likely to develop, and what will the outcome be.

Diplomacy: The discontinuation of the Arab leagues mission in Syria and the closure of European and Arab Embassies prompted the Russian UN Envoy Vitaly Churkin to interpret them as possible precursors of war. (1) The adoption of a non binding resolution by the United Nations General Assembly on Syria on Thursday came after intense US-American and Western European diplomatic pressure on politically and economically dependent nations, and following the Russian and Chinese rejection of a draft resolution at the UN Security Council on 4 February.

On Sunday Syria rejected the Arab League´s resolution that was calling for a UN-Arab Peacekeeping force in Syria, combined with the tightening of economic sanctions on Syria. The resolution was perceived as blatant interference into Syrian internal affairs. More over, the fact that several of the nations that sponsored the Arab Leagues resolution, and who would be the most likely candidates to volunteer “UN Peace Keepers”, are the very nations that are waging an illegal covert war against Syria; namely, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, with the aid of Turkey, USA, UK, and other NATO Member States. Both Syria, Russia, and China opposed the Arab League Resolution to prevent what they called a new Libya like scenario.

Vitaly Churkin stated, that the draft resolution was unbalanced and that it reflected the tendencies that cause Russia concerns. Namely, the attempt to isolate the Syrian political leadership, the rejection of any contacts with it, and the attempt to impose a political settlement formula from the outside. According to Churkin, Russia also rejected the draft resolution because non of the Russian amendments had been adopted. Churkin elicited, that Russia was especially critical of the failure to include a call on all armed groups to cease attacking residential neighborhoods and government institutions, as well as a call on government troops to leave cities and towns. Churkin also concluded that failure to adopt these points did not leave Russia with any other choice than to vote against the draft.(2)

On Thursday, the European Union adopted a resolution, urging the Russian Government to immediately halt the sales of arms to Syria. The E.U. resolution was widely perceived by analysts as meant for domestic consumption in the attempt to cognitively and emotionally prepare populations of E.U. Member States for a significant “freeze” in E.U.-Russian relations and a possible indirect or direct military conflict with Russia. Syria is the largest Arab importer of Russian arms. (3) However, seen from an objective perspective, the relatively modest Russian arms sales to Syria dwarf the heavy US and E.U. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel and other regional countries.

On 2 January, nsnbc reported that the US will deliver 84 new F-15 Boeing Fighter Jets to Saudi Arabia and significantly upgrade it´s existing fleet. (4) It is an arms deal, supporting a regional US ally, that is waging a covert war on Syria and is arming what is euphemistically called the “Syrian Opposition” (5), a country that is cracking down on protesters in Bahrain, and a country that only recently has beheaded a woman for “sorcery” (6). The traditional European or Prussian warfare doctrine of Carl von Clausewitz (7), that warfare should be the continuation of diplomacy by other means seems to have developed into diplomacy being warfare by other means. The fact that Clausewitz was inspired by Hegel seemingly makes this permutation easy. Create a problem, foster a popular demand for a solution which suits your strategic interests, and deliver the solution. The fostering and abuse of what is euphemistically sold as “The Arab Spring” with capital letters, like “The Holocaust” and the offering of military intervention as solution is a perfect example of Hegelian Dialectics; An Arab Spring, that is cynically, manufactured along the guidelines of the US Special Forces Training Circular for Unconventional Warfare, TC 18-01, which has bee published on nsnbc this week. (8)

War. After failed initiatives to lend apparent legitimacy to the war on Syria and Iran, the questions that call for being answered are; what will be the “event” that is used as pretext for entering an overt military stage of the war, when is it most likely to occur, how will it most likely develop and what is a plausible outcome. All signals are on “go”, the fuse is lit.

The Russian Military is bracing itself for the outbreak of a regional, and potentially wider Middle Eastern or Global War and is on a high state of alert. According to “The Hindu” the Head of the Russian General Staff, General Mikael Markov, informed at a Moscow Press Conference, that Iran is a sore spot for Russia, and that it is likely that a decision to attack Iran will be made within months, a little closer to the summer. Markov added, that Iran was capable of giving a sharp repulse to the attack. Also Russian Admiral Vladimir Komovedov reportedly said, that given the current military build-up in the Persian Gulf, any spark could set off the fire of a regional conflict. Komovedov, who is heading the Russian State Duma´s Defense Committee told foreign military attaches in Moscow that the US could attack Iran any time now with a simultaneous launch of 450 Tomahawk cruise missiles from warships deployed in the region. The Russian general Staff has established a “situation center” and is monitoring the situation around the clock in real time. (9)

Over the recent months Russia has significantly reinforced it´s Southern regions and borders with air, ground and maritime forces. An attack on Iran would most likely incite Iran to attack US Oil Installations in the Caspian Sea, and a developing conflict would involve Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ossetia, Chechnya and destabilize the entire Caspian Region. With an attack on Syria being the most likely “initiator”, and Iran bound to respond, it is most likely only a question of time before the powder keg ignites.

It is unlikely that the USA and NATO will be able to take on Iran directly and with massive ground forces, before it has either significantly reduced the Syrian governments military capabilities, or succeeded in ousting the Syrian Government. It is also most likely, that the US, NATO, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will be counting on “plausible deniability” as long as possible while waging war on Syria, in an attempt to position Iran and Russia as villains who intervene militarily. The ongoing development on the ground is strongly indicating that this is the most probable strategy.

Jordan. According to a report from 13 December 2011, an unspecified number of US troops that were withdrawn from Iraq had been re-deployed to Jordanian Air Force Bases as well as in Jordanian villages near Al-Mafraq, along the Jordanian-Syrian border.(10)

Since then, the NATO Alliance has established a buffer zone along the Jordanian-Syrian border, which according to sources around former Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit is currently housing 43.000 “rebels” from Libya who are waiting for a signal to attack Syria. The so called buffer zone is established around the cities of Mafraq and Ramtha, and is approximately 30 km long and 10 km deep. The zone has reportedly been closed for civilian and non authorized persons. Three large camps, housing about 20.000 mercenaries of the “Tripoli Brigades” led by Abdelhakim Belhadj have reportedly been established. The sources around former Jordanian P.M. Marouf Bakhit, which have good ties to Jordanian Intelligence Services, state, that the total number of foreign fighters in Jordan, poised for an attack on Syria is 43.000. The transport of the NATO mercenaries has largely been conducted under the cover of medical evacuations from Libya, and that some of Jordan´s Royal Medical Services Hospitals as well as Hotels are filled beyond capacity with foreign fighters poised for war on Syria.

According to the same sources, a contingent of dozens of Turkish Intelligence Officers have been the Rabia district and established an operations room in Mecca Street. The Turkish operation also functions as recruitment office for Jihadi´s and mercenaries who wish to enlist in the planned attack on Syria.

Lebanon and Turkey. According to sources with ties to Jordanian Intelligence a shipment of over 50 T of Israeli Military Equipment, worth over USD 650 million has arrived at Erbil Airport in Kurdistan. The weapons have reportedly been paid by “Rafael Industries”.Lebanese M.P. and Chairman of the Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt´s recent shuttling to Qatar, Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey have specifically been tied to the arms delivery.  The weapons are planned to go on route to Homs. Jumblatt is well known for his anti Syrian meddling. During the protracted Lebanese civil war Jumblatt was a significant agent for division within the progressive alliance and known to have repeatedly sabotaged Syrian attempts to unite progressive forces around a pan-arabic solution that also embraced the Palestinian problem.

Syria First. But When.

Libya was not the easy push-over as many may have expected. The profound and still ongoing resistance of the legitimate Libyan governments forces and the Libyan people has most likely contributed to a delay of the war plans against Syria and Iran. Syria will be even harder to destabilize. The Syrian people are standing in a surprisingly strong solidarity behind their government and against the foreign led insurgency. NATO´s lack of ability to push for another Libya Style UN Resolution has significantly delayed the window for overt military intervention by NATO and allied countries.NATO´s problem with respect to Iran is, that it can not afford to attack Iran directly as long as Syria is not significantly destabilized, and the window of opportunity for a war on Iran in 2012 is already closing and is to be expected by middle of April if it is to be realized this year.

The rapidly closing window for an attack on Iran is adding to NATO´s urgency to initiate a Syrian campaign. Other contributing factors to the urgency are the problems that are arising with maintaining a force of largely uncontrolled and undisciplined foreign fighters in Turkey and Jordan. Another factor which is adding urgency to initiating an assault on Syria is the political nightmare that would arise for NATO if millions of Syrians turned out voting for the new Syrian Constitution, and protesting for President Bashar Al-Assad and against foreign intervention and aggression. What is needed is a plausible excuse for an intervention, and before the results of the referendum for the new Syrian Constitution can be proclaimed.

On 26 February the people of Syria will hold a referendum about the new Syrian Constitution. A referendum that will most likely be the point where the masses of NATO mercenaries in Jordan and Turkey will be given the “go” for an assault on Syria. Massive unrests and violence on the 26th may be the excuse NATO is creating.

Neither Iran nor Russia are particularly interested in becoming engaged in a direct confrontation with the NATO led aggression. The responses to an assault on Syria via Jordan, Turkey and eventually Lebanon will largely depend on the Syrian military´s capability to cope with the situation, and if NATO dares to raise the stakes, risking a confrontation with Russia. Would Iran stay passive when NATO mercenaries launch an attack via Jordan? If so, a Russian response would be strongly depending on the Syrian military capability to handle an assault by 40.000 fighters from Jordan, and if the West insists on intervening with regular forces. If Iran is getting involved the situation may be better for Syria. Can Iran muster a limited response that could not serve as pretext for a war against it ? Will Russia assert it´s influence over Iran and keep it from attacking US Oil refineries in the Caspian ? I don´t know, and most probably nobody really does. What is certain however, is that the Russian, Iranian and Syrian military forces are on alert and in anticipation of developments that can turn the region a thunder within the hour. What ever the outcome, the victim is humanity.

Dr. Christof Lehmann on nsnbc

17.02.2012

1) Russian envoy: Embassies closure in Syria could mean preparations for military intervention; TREND.  http://en.trend.az/regions/met/arabicr/1992801.html

2) Russian Envoy Slams UN General Assembly’s Syria Resolution http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120217/171356084.html

3) EU Urges Russia To Halt Syria Arms Sales.  http://en.rian.ru/world/20120216/171347105.html

4) US Delivers New F-15´s to Saudi Arabia.  http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/us-delivers-new-f-15%C2%B4s-to-saudi-arabia/

5) The Manufacturing of the War on Syria. Christof Lehmann (2011), nsnbc. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/the-manufacturing-of-the-war-on-syria/

6) Saudi woman beheaded for “sorcery”. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/saudi-woman-beheaded-for-sorcery/

7) Carl von Clausewitz. Wiki. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_von_Clausewitz

8) US-Military Logic behind Syrian Insurgency. The “Special Forces Unconventional Warfare” manual” TC 18-01. Christof Lehmann (2012) nsnbc.  http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/us-military-logic-behind-syrian-insurgency-the-special-forces-unconventional-warfare-manual-tc-18-01/

9)Attack on Iran not far off says Russian general. The Hindu.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2899679.ece

10) Foreign Troops Begin to Spread near Al-Mafraq. Boilingforgspost/nsnbc. http://nsnbc.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/foreign-troops-begin-to-spread-in-syria/